Obama to act against gun violence

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iol pic wld Benjamin Wheeler_ REUTERS People arrive for the funeral of six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler who was killed on December 14 in a deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown.

Washington - 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, Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday.

Biden opened a White House meeting 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,” the vice president told reporters 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.”

In a reversal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would send a representative to Washington to meet with Biden on Thursday, after initially saying it would not send anyone. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is the largest U.S. gun seller.

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

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

Obama 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 United States, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Biden is due to meet with the powerful U.S. 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 added. 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 movies and videogames in mass shootings and whether there is adequate access to mental health services. - Reuters

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