White House gun push narrows to background checks

politicoRICHMOND, Va. – President Barack Obama unveiled a broad array of new gun control proposals last week, but already his administration has narrowed the main force of their effort behind just one: universal background checks.

That was the message Vice President Joe Biden effectively delivered here Friday as he launched the administration’s road campaign in support of the new restrictions developed in the wake of the school massacre at Newtown, Conn.

Polls show of all that the president proposed — including a new assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines — universal background checks is the one the widest majority of Americans back. Now Obama and Biden are seeking to mobilize that support and reassure wary gun owners that weapons bans won’t be the first priority.

The White House is going to great lengths to describe background checks as a response with broad, bipartisan support — a message the vice president carried to a roundtable with administration officials at Virginia Commonwealth University and stressed to reporters afterward.

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“There should be universal background checks, universal background checks,” Biden said. “It in no way impacts upon someone’s ability under the Constitution to own a gun. Zero, zero. It’s enforcing a law – some folks say, ‘Look, just enforce the laws that are on the books.’ Well, the first step to do that is put a law on the books that says all those folks that have adjudicated incapable of owning a gun under the law, make sure we have access to their names. That’s why there is a need for universal background checks.”

The next concrete action on guns will come on Capitol Hill as congressional leaders craft legislation and gauge support. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), will kick things off next week with a

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