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Student wounded in California school shooting

Shooting comes as US Vice President Joe Biden meets with National Rifle Association about tackling gun violence.
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2013 06:05

A student was shot and wounded at a rural high school Thursday and another student was taken into custody, officials said.

The shooting occurred about 9 a.m. at Taft Union High School, in community of fewer than 10,000 people amidst oil and natural gas production fields in San Joaquin Valley, about 193 km northwest of Los Angeles.

The student who was shot was flown to a hospital in Bakersfield, said Ray Pruitt, spokesman for the Kern County Sheriff's Department. There was no immediate word on the victim's condition.

Pruitt said the suspect is a student, and a shotgun was used in the attack.

Kern County Fire Department Eric Coughran told KBAK-TV that another person suffered some type of injuries in the incident but refused medical attention.

KERO-TV Bakersfield reported that the station received phone calls from people inside the school who hid in closets.

It was not immediately clear how many students are enrolled at the high school.

Biden task force 

Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday his task force exploring ways to reduce US gun violence plans to submit recommendations to President Barack Obama by next Tuesday, likely including background checks for all gun buyers.

Biden planned talks later in the day with a representative of the powerful US gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, as well as major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the largest US gun seller.

The task force, which also includes US Attorney General Eric Holder, is trying to reach a consensus on a set of proposals quickly while there is still a mood for action in Congress following the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut last month.

"There's an emerging set of recommendations not coming from me, but coming from the groups we've met with," Biden said.

Only a "tight window" exists for action, said Biden, who said he would submit his recommendations to Obama by Tuesday.

After that, Obama will review them, decide which ones he wants to keep and then announce a package of actions and proposals, the White House said.

The Biden group is grappling with elements that go beyond gun control measures, looking into aspects of American popular culture. Talks were expected later with representatives of the movie industry, whose films routinely feature gun violence.

Background checks

Biden, at a meeting of hunting and outdoor sports groups, told reporters two of his task force's recommendations were likely to be universal background checks for gun purchasers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

The task force is also expected to propose a ban on assault weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by the gunman in the Newtown elementary school shooting.

Biden said the universal background check requirement would extend to all gun purchasers. This would close the so-called "gun show loophole" in which vendors at open-air gun sales events can sell without a background check on the purchaser, as well as private sales such as those conducted over the Internet.

While a pool of the news media was allowed in for part of Biden's meeting with hunting groups such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, there was no such news coverage planned for the Biden talks with the NRA, perhaps the most sensitive meeting of the series he is conducting.

The NRA proposed after the Newtown massacre that armed security officers be stationed at schools.

Asked what he would be telling the NRA, Biden offered no specifics, saying he would raise the same issues he brought up with the hunting groups.

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