PHILADELPHIA — Vice President Joe Biden told regional law enforcement officials here Monday that new laws are necessary to curb gun violence and he pledged to take the message to small town America.
“If we can save the life of one single person, one child, without any impact on an individual’s constitutional right, then why in God’s name should we not do that?” Biden said at a round-table discussion. “We’re going to be judged very harshly if we don’t.”
Among those attending was Christine Dunning, police chief in Wilmington, Del., Biden’s hometown. Earlier Monday, a gunman opened fire in the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, killing two women and wounding two police officers. The shooter, who was previously convicted of kidnapping and bank fraud, was also killed.
Biden said five people have been shot to death in Wilmington, and 33 in Philadelphia, in the two months since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Biden spoke on the eve of President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address. Obama is expected to press Congress to pass gun control measures, including improved background checks and limits on high-volume ammunition clips.
Survivors of several gun massacres, including Newtown, have been invited to watch the address from the House gallery.
Sen. Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania Democrat, also joined Biden on Monday. Once an opponent of gun control proposals, Casey now supports an assault weapons ban and limitations on ammunition. He recently described Sandy Hook as “a tragedy that shook me in a way that was just remarkable.”
Dozens of gun-related bills have been introduced in Congress since the school massacre. Casey predicted that the Democrat-controlled Senate would hold a series of votes in coming weeks, although only regulation to require law enforcement checks of all gun buyers is deemed likely to pass the House.
Members of Congress who attended Biden’s round table were all Democrats from the Philadelphia area, where polls show strong support for stricter gun control.