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Biden, Bloomberg urge Congress to restore gun bill provisions

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks in favor

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks in favor of gun reform legislation at a press conference on March 21, 2013 in New York City. The Vice President joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and family members of Sandy Hook shooting victims at the city hall event. (March 21, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Parents of children killed in the Newtown, Conn., massacre joined Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday at City Hall to urge Congress to look beyond politics and restore provisions in the White House gun control package outlawing assault weapons and large-ammunition magazines.

"For all of those who say we shouldn't ban high-capacity magazines . . . think about Newtown," Biden said during a news conference.

Biden, who is leading the White House push for new gun laws, and Bloomberg, perhaps the nation's most powerful gun control advocate, met two days after it emerged that the prohibition on military-style firearms would be stripped from proposals expected to go to the Senate floor next month.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that Democrats had to remove the proposed bans so other parts of the legislation, such as universal background checks, could survive.

Background checks are now required when licensed gun dealers sell weapons; the current proposal would make them mandatory for transactions between individuals. While some gun-control advocates have seen it as the biggest change likely to pass, Biden reiterated Thursday that the White House is still pressing for the assault weapons ban.

"I'm not going to rest, and neither is the president, until we do all of these things," he said, maintaining they don't infringe "one iota" on Second Amendment rights. Gun-rights advocates and many Republican lawmakers disagree.

The National Rifle Association has denounced the assault weapons prohibition as "a senseless ban of firearms based on cosmetic features." The NRA opposes the background checks provision as opening a door to a national gun registry.

Neil Heslin asked lawmakers to look at the issue from his perspective, as a father whose son, Jesse Lewis, 6, was killed in the Newtown shooting.

"Quite honestly, I'm really ashamed to see that Congress doesn't have the guts to stand up and make a change and put a ban on these type of weapons," he said. "I never thought something like this could ever happen in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, but it did. And it could happen to any one of your children or grandchildren."

Bloomberg said he and sensible voters will remember Congress members who back gun control come election season.

"If you stand up and try to prevent this from happening again, I will support you. If you do not, I will support the candidate running against you, regardless of what party," said the mayor, a registered independent.

With The Associated Press

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