I just received this via email from the press pool. This is from the 11:45 AM: Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups meeting listed in today's GRE, and before the NRA and "gun groups" meeting.
Below is your pooler's transcript of Biden's remarks. Ellipses are included where the pool audio did not pick up his words.
"Let me begin by thanking you all for being here. You represent the bulk of the sportsmen in this country and you all know this is a complicated issue. There is no singular solution to how we deal with the crime that happened up in Newtown, or in Colorado, or in the general gun violence that takes place in America today. The President and I and the Cabinet understand that it’s a complicated issue.
"That’s why the President asked me to do this in conjunction with my colleagues in the cabinet. What we did was put together a pretty extensive list what we considered the stakeholders in wanting to deal with the issue of gun violence in America. The first groups we met with will not surprise you…all the national law enforcement organizations. But also just to give you a sense of what we have done so far… We have met with the medical community, the Academy of Family Physicians, the Academy of Neurology, Pediatrics, etc, a group of about 15 leading medical doctors who represent an organization across the country… We’ve met with at risk youth, and children advocacy groups from the After School Alliance, to Promise America, to Boys and Girls Clubs, because part of this is cultural as well as it is the actual weapons themselves. We have met with the domestic violence prevention community.
"We’ve met with justice organizations like the ABA . . . the National Legal Aide and Defense Association, prosecutors. We’ve met with civil rights organizations. We’ve met with national service organizations… Kiwanis, Rotary International. We’ve met with youth groups. We’ve met with gun safety advocates. Yesterday that meeting took place here. Probably best known is the Brady Campaign, but also a dozen other organizations that are concerned about gun safety. And then we met with educators and parents from the school boards to the state school officers associations, we met a dozen or so of those folks. And then one of the most important things we have been focusing on is the mental health community. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mental Health of America, the National Empowerment Center, the National Council of Community Behavioral Health Centers, because there is an argument among health providers that this is a major component, to deal with particularly a lot of suicides as well that we see today.
"And yesterday we finished up in this room with I think it was 17 members of the faith community, which in all the years I have been doing this, the first time there has been an overwhelming consensus, from the evangelical groups nationwide, and particularly those in rural areas, to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Conference of Churches, the Muslim community, because this does have a significant moral dimension—how we make the American community safer and how we go about it. Today we meet with you. Later I meet with some industry representatives as well as the NRA, and executive director of the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, importers, etc.
"So the point I am trying to make to you is we realize this requires all the stakeholders to give us their best ideas to what is, as I said at the outset, a complicated problem. There is no single answer. I go back,like a lot of you, having been dealing with this issue since my days as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and all the way back to the 1970s. If you at every one of the tragic events that have attracted so much attention it’s hard to be able to pinpoint what you should have done to assure that wouldn’t have happened. But there’s also things we know. We know that there are certain actions we take that have diminished the extent of the gun violence that otherwise would be occurring in the United States.
"There is an emerging set of recommendations not coming from me, but coming from the groups we have met with. And I’m going to focus on the ones that relate primarily to gun ownership, and the type of weapons we own. And one is there is a surprising—so far—a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the gun show loophole but totally universal background checks including private sales. There has been a lot of discussion from the groups we have met with so far, and I think the attorney general has been in almost all the meetings will tell you, is how we strengthen our background checks. What additional information should be available, if any, and how do we get the information. For example, convicted felons in a state—how do they get on the NICS, that is the thing the gun dealer goes to check when you are a felon. It doesn’t do a lot of good when in some states they have a backlog of forty-, fifty-, sixty-thousand felons that they never registered here. So we have got to talk about, there is a lot of talk about how we entice, or what is the impediment keeping states from relaying this information.
"There is also a good deal of talk about gun safety, and what responsibility goes along with gun ownership, which is something I would really like to talk to all of you about. There has also been a surprise. Among my colleagues, my former colleagues in the Senate, who have been pretty universally opposed to any restrictions on gun ownership or what type of weapons can be purchased etc., I have never quite heard as much talk about the need to do something about high capacity magazines as I have heard spontaneously from every group I have met with so far.
"And the last area, which is an area that has come up, has to do with the ability of any agency to do any research on the issue of gun violence. For example, we’re meeting before the week is out with the gaming industry—I don’t mean gambling—with the video game industry. To use Pay Moynihan’s expression, when we first started talking about the Biden crime bill back in the ‘80s, he used the example of, he said ‘We’ve been defining deviancy down.’ He used the example of the assassination of a mob boss in 1936… making the front page of every paper in America. And then he stood on the Senate floor and he held up the New York Times and on page 54, he picked it up, at the very back of the paper, where an entire family,including grandmother, mother, father, children, were basically assassinated in their apartment, thinking it may have been about a drug deal, and it made page 54. And he said, ‘We’ve defined deviancy down.’
"Well one of the things that we’ve been prohibited from doing beginning in the early part of this century in 2004 is even the Center for Disease Control gathering up information about the kinds of injuries. What are the injuries and what are the source of the injuries? … I was around in the 70s, the only guy who may remember this, I hope I don’t insult him, is Ray LaHood, because he knows about the automobile industry as well as the wholequestion of traffic safety and highway safety. There was a big fight when Ifirst got to the Senate that had begun in the late 60s and early 70s, where the automobile industry was very reluctant to allow the Department of Transportation to acquire statistics on the type of accidents that occurred. They were not able to literally acquire the information, because the concern was it would lead to calls for some rational regulation, from guardrails toautomobiles. And I remember, Ray you may remember, that when we finally broke through and NITSA started keeping this information, we find out, if my memory is correct that the vast majority of drivers operating an automobile, and killed in an automobile accident, was because the steering wheel actually broke their solar plexus, damaged their heart or penetrated their upper body cavity. The reason why the industry didn’t want everybody knowing that, at least my supposition was, it became logical: Do something about steering wheels, so they can collapse. Make sure that front end collisions had the ability to absorbshock. And what does it lead to? It lead to, all of a sudden, we said to automobile manufacturers you cannot make an automobile that doesn’t have a steering column with the following attributes. You have to make an automobile that can absorb x amount of shock. All of a sudden when we found out passengers were being killed because they were being thrown through windshields, or, if my memory serves me, skull fractures from being thrown into the crossbar, all of a sudden we started talking about, it made sense, why don’t we have airbags? They didn’t want to have airbags. Well guess what, you have airbags. We are saving lives.
"So there was a real effort to deny the government just gathering the information. Well as you know there are restrictions now on any agency in the government just gathering the information about what kind of weapons are used most to kill people. How many weapons used are trafficked weapons? Are weapons used in gang warfare in our major cities—are they legally purchased or are they purchased through strawmen? We don’t have that information. And the irony is we are prohibited under laws and appropriations bills from acquiring it.
"So I want to talk to you a little bit about—as an owner of shotguns, as a guy, I’m no great hunter, it’s mostly skeet shooting for me—I don’t quite understand why everybody would be afraid of whether or not we determine what is happening. So there is a whole lot of things that I want to talk to you about. But I did feel it wise to tell you what we have done so far and what we are doing from here. We are going to be meeting again. This afternoon we have meetings. Tomorrow I have meetings, and I am trying to set up telephone conferences with the manufactures. Because there has got to be some common ground to not solve every problem but diminish the probability that what we have seen in these mass shootings will occur, and diminish the probability that our children are at risk in our schools, and diminish the probability that weapons will be used and firearms will be used in dealing with aberrant behavior that takes place in our society.
"So that’s what this is all about. There is no conclusion that I have reached, and my colleagues and I are putting together a series of recommendations for the president. I committed to him that I would have these recommendations to him by Tuesday. It doesn’t mean that this will be the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act.
"I will conclude by saying, in all my years involved in the issues, there is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the Americanpeople, there is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more than the image people have of little six year old kids riddled, not shot, but riddled, riddled, with bullet holes in their classroom. …I’m not sure we can guarantee this will never happen again, but as the President said even if we can onlysave one life it would make sense. And I think we can do a great a great deal without in any way imposing on and impinging on the rights of the Second Amendment. That’s what this is about. And I thank you all for being here.
[He was asked by a reporter what he will talk about with the NRA later today.]
"Well we are going to talk about all the things I talked about here."