Biden Takes Strong Anti-Gun Record as Chief of Task Force

December 20, 2012 - 2:34 PM
Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

(CNSNews.com) – Vice President Joe Biden, named to head the working group looking into a federal response to the Connecticut school shooting, has a long record of advocating for gun control measures.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, Biden was scheduled to meet with law enforcement leaders, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for what would be the first action taken by the group since President Barack Obama announced its formation Monday.

The group is set to deliver legislative proposals by January.

As a U.S. senator representing Delaware from 1973 through 2008, Biden supported banning semi-automatic weapons, banning certain ammunition, banning magazines that hold more than 10-rounds and for waiting periods on handgun sales and against curbing lawsuits against gun manufacturers, according to the National Rifle Association.

In announcing the formation of the working group at the White House Wednesday, President Barack Obama alluded to that record.

“That’s why I’ve asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January – proposals that I then intend to push without delay,” Obama said.

“I asked Joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in this country. That plan – that bill also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former presidents including Ronald Reagan,” he added.

The NRA predicted in 2008, “It is fair to say that if Barack Obama is elected president, Joe Biden will be the most anti-gun vice president in American history.”

Last Friday in Newtown, Conn., a shooter murdered 20 children, mostly ages five and six, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The gunman, Adam Lanza, also killed six adults including his mother before taking his own life. The massacre prompted calls among some lawmakers for stricter gun control measures.

“Sen. Biden pushed the semi-automatic ban and all of the post-Columbine legislation, which would have eliminated gun shows,” Mike Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, told CNSNews.com.

Hammond added that Biden has opposed amendments to legislation to allow school teachers and administrators to carry guns as a means of self-defense.

“A lot of people in our community feel Adam Lanza was able to get his 15 minutes of fame, because no one was able to shoot back,” Hammond said. “The guy who caused this problem is the guy put in charge of solving it.”

Although the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, Connecticut has an existing ban on semi-automatic rifles. Thus, Hammond said such a federal ban would not have prevented the Newtown massacre.

The NRA, the nation’s largest Second Amendment advocacy group, also cited Biden’s support of a 1989 bill to ban Colt AR-15 and similar guns characterized in the bill as “assault weapons.”

Biden also sponsored a renewal of the assault weapons ban in 2007, in a bill titled the “Crime Control and Prevention Act.” This would have banned about 200 different semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Meanwhile, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence heralds Biden’s record on guns in a report issued shortly after Obama and Biden were elected in 2008.

The Brady Campaign sites “Biden’s long record of supporting reasonable gun laws,” pointing to the fact that Biden “supported the Brady bill requiring background checks and a waiting period for gun sales”; “authored the 1994 Crime bill that included the federal Assault Weapons Ban”; “supported renewing the assault weapons ban in 2004”; “supported requiring background checks for all gun sales at gun shows”; and “opposed special legal protection for the gun industry that denied legal remedies to gun violence victims.”

Biden voted against a bill in 2004 and 2005 to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits, according to Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan, non-advocacy organization that tracks votes cast by all members of Congress. He also voted for greater regulation of gun shows in 1999.

In 1993, Biden voted for the assault weapons ban and for the Brady bill that required background checks and a waiting period for anyone seeking to buy a handgun.