The White House’s task force led by Vice President Joe Biden is considering expansive proposals to tackle the nation’s gun violence, something that is already drawing early condemnation from even Democratic lawmakers. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the group headed by Biden is preparing to go far beyond a simple reinstatement of the expired assault weapons ban:
A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.
But on Sunday, newly sworn-in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, called the reported proposals “way in the extreme” and cautioned that they would not pass if brought together in a comprehensive bill.
“Well, I think you need to put everything on the table,” Heitkamp said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
“But what I hear from the administration — and if The Washington Post is to be believed — that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it’s not going to pass.”
It’s an especially strong rebuke from the Democrat Heitkamp, who comes from a red-leaning state and earned an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. The Post reported that the White House plans to bypass trying to earn support for the measure from the NRA, instead turning to businesses like Wal-Mart for support.
On “This Week,” Heitkamp said that there should be a discussion on mental health before one on gun control.
“Let’s start addressing the problem,” she said. “And to me, one of the issues that I think comes — screams — out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill. And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control.”
President Barack Obama announced the formation of the task force last month in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and seven others dead.
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