WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, is slated to meet with Vice President Joe Biden as he considers recommendations on how to respond to a mass shooting last month in Newtown, Connecticut, the White House said on Tuesday.
After the Newtown school shooting, which President Barack Obama called the worst day of his presidency, he asked Biden to come up with a broad range of ideas to curb gun violence - ideas he will unveil in his annual State of the Union address, traditionally given 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 Constitution.
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.
Biden and his task force are slated to hold meeting this week with victims of gun violence, gun safety groups, hunting groups, and gun owners, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
“His group will also meet with representatives of the entertainment and video-game industries,” Carney said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan is slated to meet with parent, teacher and education groups, Carney said.
The NRA has proposed armed guards in schools, an idea about which Obama has expressed skepticism.
The group’s top lobbyist, James J. Baker, will attend the task force meeting on Thursday, an NRA spokesman said.
“We are sending a representative to hear what they have to say,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in an e-mailed statement.
Additional reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jackie Frank