WASHINGTON — Vice President Biden told White House allies in the gun control fight Thursday that President Obama will be announcing new executive actions on gun violence in the days after the Senate voted down a gun violence bill.
On a conference call with “stakeholders,” Biden told gun control advocates that the fight is not over and that eventual action on gun control will come. Press were not invited to the conference call; a participant provided BuzzFeed with access.
“Look, I know you’re going to say that I’m just being an optimist and I’m trying to put a good face on this. But, you know, I’ve been around here a long time and we’ve already done, because of you, some really good things,” Biden said. “Number one, the president is already lining up some additional executive actions he’s going to be taking later this week.”
After the Newtown shootings, Obama took a number of executive actions to expand research into gun violence and other areas favored by the gun control community. He took the actions without congressional approval, leading to outrage by some conservatives.
Biden mentioned several areas where executive action has been taken, including helping schools that want them to hire more armed police offers and training teachers to identify and treat possible future school shooters.
“Already we have put out notifications to all communities that if they want school resource officers to use their portion of the COPS grant to be able to deal with a school resource officer or someone in the school who’s a counselor, or whatever they need,” he said.
“Secondly, we also have pushed forward grants for new and available funding for dealing with training teachers and dealing with alerting them to high-risk, you know, kids in their communities and their school that are signs that they’re going to have a real problem and may be the very kids you need to get to now before they end up like an Adam Lanza,” he said. “We also are going to have a national mental health dialogue where we’re going to vastly expand mental health availability under the Mental Health Parity act as well as the Affordable Care Act.”
Biden said the White House is looking at ways to increase the number of people denied the right to buy a firearm under the current background check system.
“We also are reviewing the list of prohibited purchasers to maybe expand that list of prohibited purchasers,” he said. “Granted, only 60% of people who go for a purchase are doing it [background checks].”
Biden lamented Wednesday’s Senate vote on the call but said it had taken him multiple attempts to pass the Brady Bill in the 1990s. He said that in the long run, supporters of gun control will win out over the NRA and its allies.
Update: A White House official told BuzzFeed the executive actions Biden was referring to on the call are part of Obama’s original list of 23 executive actions on guns announced in January.