White House Weighing Broad Gun Control Legislation

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The White House is weighing a far broader approach to curbing U.S. gun violence than just reinstating a ban on assault weapons, according to reports.

The Washington Post states that V.P. Joseph Biden is seriously considering measures that would require universal background checks for gun buyers.

Movement and sale of weapons would be tracked through a national database.

Obama-Biden Pic

The measures would also strengthen mental health checks and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the Post said.

The Post reports that approach is generally backed by law enforcement leaders.

President Barack Obama assigned Biden the job of designing the strategy after the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last month.

To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby.

They include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other major American gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses, the Post said.

The White House has been in contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate who could emerge as a surrogate.

The White House had no official comment on the Post story.

A White House spokesman told the newspaper that Biden's group was in the middle of its review and had not decided on its final recommendations.

The NRA has successfully lobbied federal lawmakers to stop any major new gun restrictions since a 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

When asked if Congress will entertain new gun regulation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he first needed to see Biden's recommendations.

"There will be plenty of time to take a look at their recommendations once they come forward," said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, of gun control.

McConnell said that for the next three months, D.C.'s debates would center on federal spending and the rising debt, which have dominated the last two.

In a statement, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged Biden to include in his proposals measures to prevent trafficking in illegal guns.

The New York Senators also urged Biden to make it harder for felons and the mentally ill to get firearms, a major talking point following the Newtown shooting.