Biden: Obama executive orders possible on guns

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WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday the White House will explore all avenues -- including executive orders that would not require approval by Congress -- to try to curb gun violence and prevent incidents like last month's massacre at a Connecticut school.

Kicking off a series of meetings on gun violence, Biden said the administration would work with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters to build a consensus on restrictions. But he made clear that President Barack Obama is prepared to act on his own if necessary.

"We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing. It's critically important that we act," said Biden, who will meet Thursday with pro-gun groups. That includes the National Rifle Association, which claims 4 million members and is the gun lobby's most powerful organization. Wal-Mart Stores, the largest U.S. gun seller, also will participate Thursday.

Biden, whose panel was formed after 20 schoolchildren and six adults were killed on Dec. 14 by a gunman at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has been ordered by Obama to come up with policy proposals on guns this month.

The vice president said there was a consensus among panel members on "three or four or five" steps regarding gun safety, but did not specify what they were.

"There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet," Biden said, adding that Obama is conferring with Attorney General Eric Holder on potential action.

Without action by Congress, Obama could issue orders to improve background checks on gun buyers, ban certain gun imports and bolster oversight of dealers. Other executive orders could improve information sharing among law enforcement authorities about illegal gun purchases.

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