VP Biden joins Conn. gun control discussion

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February 21, 2013, 6:29 pm
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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Danbury, Conn.) - Ten miles away and just over two months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, the memory of the 20 children and six adults killed in the school was palpable at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, where a discussion that included Vice President Joe Biden convened on how to prevent it from happening again.

Gun control was the main topic, and among the panelists were Chris and Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter, Grace, was killed. Her mother said laws must be passed.  

"We owe it to our children and I owe it to my daughter, Grace," Lynn McDonnell said.  

But there is debate even here about what to do and how far to go.

Panelist Dom Basile is a gun safety instructor. He said the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, could not have gotten a hold of the semi-automatic rifle he used that day if his mother, who owned the gun legally, had locked it up properly.

"Literally every single facets of what Adam Lanza did that day was already covered by existing law. There are no voids, there are no shortcomings. In that regard, there's nothing to fix," Basile said.

However, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra disagrees.

"To simply say that everything that could have been done in order to avoid that tragedy is extremely inaccurate," Mayor Segarra said.

The consensus in this room is assault weapons need to be banned as do high capacity magazines, and anyone trying to by any type of gun must undergo a background check. These kinds of proposals have been called the third rail of politics for the backlash they get from pro-gun groups such as the NRA.  

Vice President Joe Biden addressed exaclty that.  

"People write about the political risks and why they’re unacceptable to take on. I say it's unacceptable not to take these on. It's just simply unacceptable," Vice President Biden said.

Many here, Biden included, believe Dec. 14 and what the NRA has labeled "the Newtown effect" has changed everything.

"I believe the price to be paid politically to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward, because America's changed on this issue," Biden said.

Many gun control advocates here in Connecticut want to see something happen quickly, but consider this: It took 12 years from the day that James Brady was shot to the day that the Brady Act, the last improvement to federal gun control, was passed.

Tags: connecticut, Joe Biden, Newtown, Brian Burnell, Danbury , National Rifle Association, Pedro Segarra, Chris McDonnell, Grace McDonnell, Lynn McDonnell, gun lobby, Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Dom Basile
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