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Obama may take executive action on guns issue

Biden says White House wants to build a consensus on restrictions but President Obama will act on his own if necessary.
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2013 12:20

US President Barack Obama is "determined to take action" against gun violence and is considering executive orders aimed at preventing attacks like last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, according to Vice-President Joe Biden.

Biden opened a White House meeting on Wednesday with gun-violence victims and gun-control advocates as part of his effort to craft a package of recommendations that Obama has requested by the end of January.

The administration is considering a combination of executive actions and legislation and is determined to act quickly, Biden said.

"We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we do everything we're going to do nothing," Biden said before the meeting.

"There is a pretty wide consensus on three or four or five things in the gun safety area that could and should be done."

Executive orders hold the full force of the law and can be issued by the president without the consent of congress. The orders can later be challenged by congress, but the president still has the right to veto any bill put forth.

A two-thirds majority is often required to override an executive order.

In a reversal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would send a representative to Washington to meet Biden on Thursday, after initially saying it would not send anyone.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is the largest US gun seller.

"We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate," David Tovar, Walmart spokesman, said.

State of the Union address

After the Newtown shooting, Obama asked Biden to come up with ideas to curb gun violence. Obama is expected to present many of them in his State of the Union address, traditionally delivered in late January.

He has said he wants new gun-control measures passed during the first year of his second term, but gun control is a divisive issue in the US, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution.

Biden is due to meet the powerful US gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, on Thursday.

"We're reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate you fall," he said. "But the president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken."

No decision has been made yet on what those actions would be, he said. Legislative measures are also under consideration, Biden said.

Biden's task force is examining legislation that would ban assault rifles, but is also looking at the role of violent films and video games in mass shootings and whether there is adequate access to mental-health services.

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