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Obama: VP Biden To Lead Gun Violence Think Tank

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In the wake of the deadly rampage in a Connecticut elementary school, President Barack Obama hopes to keep the nation focused on preventing gun violence long enough to put what he calls meaningful legislation in place. Washington DC bureau reporter Erin Billups filed the following report for NY1.

As Newtown, Connecticut continued to lay victims of Friday's mass shooting to rest, Democrats on Capitol Hill and the White House declared war on gun violence Wednesday.

"If there is even one thing we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation to try," said President Barack Obama.

Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday to head up a gun violence prevention task force.

"We're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun," the president said. "We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence."

The president called it a comprehensive approach, reiterating his support of bans on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips and background checks before gun purchases.

The task force must submit a report within the next few weeks.

"It won't be easy, but that can't be an excuse not to try," Obama said.

House Democrats launched their own task force Wednesday, promising to work with the White House. But they're also calling on Republicans to act now, during the lame-duck session, on Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's ban on high-capacity magazines.

"I know there are differences, but can't we come together this one time?" McCarthy said.

After a sustained silence, the National Rifle Association seemed to offer an olive branch Tuesday, promising meaningful contributions to prevent gun violence. But at the same time, content on its online news program suggests there will still be considerable pushback to gun control legislation.

"If one of those school administrators that first confronted him had a firearm, we might not be talking about what we're talking about today," said Ginny Simone, an online news anchor for the NRA.

Obama appealed for self-reflection from NRA members. He said as consensus grows behind strengthening gun control, he's confident passions will not fade away this time.

"I would hope that our memories aren't so short that what we saw in Newtown isn't lingering with us, that we don't remain passionate about it," he said.

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