Vice President Joe Biden joined a Google+ hangout to chat about the White House's plans to curb gun violence, which Biden and President Barack Obama unveiled last week.
During a question-and-answer session with a group of journalists, parents and mental health professionals, Biden slammed the NRA for its opposition to any new gun legislation.
Biden dwelled for a long time on the importance of allowing the Center for Disease Control to carry out research into gun violence, which the NRA has worked to halt.
"The Center for Disease Control can't even keep statistics on gun violence," Biden told panelist Guy Kawasaki. "They can't even do research."
Biden cited his early days in the Senate dealing with automobile safety reform as precedent for his recommendation to allow the CDC to conduct research on gun violence again.
Biden said that after Ralph Nader published the book "Unsafe At Any Speed" in 1965, some in the auto industry argued that the National Highway Safety Board shouldn't be able to collect research on accident fatalities. He said that situation closely mirrors what the NRA is trying to do today in lobbying to de-fund gun research.
In Washington, he said, some interest groups were "afraid of the facts."
"Once we're able to keep the statistics, they found out that the vast majority of drivers who were killed were impaled by the steering column," Biden said. Based on that research, the Senate mandated that the steering column had to give, and lives were saved, Biden said. The NHSB also found that passenger fatalities were primarily skull fractures by hitting the bar next to the windshield, so the Senate mandated cross-chest seat belts.
"Once the research that was done we built much safer automobiles," Biden said.
Biden wants similar action on guns. The goal, he said, was do do anything to save lives.
He cited support for the expired assault weapons ban from police organizations. The police, he said, were being "out-gunned" since the ban expired in 2004. He likened assault weapons to F-16s, M1 tanks and automatic weapons — arms he said civilians had no reason to own.
Biden advocated for more police and school resource officers and psychologists around schools, and also talked about training teachers to identify students with possible unaddressed psychological issues. But, he took a stance against arming teachers or putting more armed guards in schools, another rebuke at the NRA.
"It would be a terrible mistake," he said. "The last thing we need to do is to be arming school teachers and administrators."
Still, Biden said he empathizes with gun owners who feel targeted by the laws. He said he personally owns two shotguns, and discussed a memorable experience shooting with a 78-year-old woman who is still active in the Delaware Democratic party.
"It's not about keeping bad guns out of the hands of good people. It's trying to keep all guns out of the hands of bad people," Biden said.
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