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Obama appoints Joe Biden to lead gun violence panel

In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., last Friday, President Obama addressed the nation Wednesday morning announcing the appointment of Vice President Joe Biden to head a commission looking into ways to reduce gun violence.

"We may never know why this happened," said the president. "We do know that more people have died from gun violence since last Friday."

Obama expects Biden and his panel to come up with a set of proposals to address the issue by the end of January. Biden has sponsored previous legislation on gun reduction, but the subject has been so unpopular that an assault weapon ban was allowed to expire in 2004, with barely any notice.

"The majority of Americans support banning military style assault weapons. I urge Congress to pass legislation as soon as possible next year," continued Obama.

The president said he believes in the second amendment and the right to bear arms. He also said that he believes the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible law abiding citizens and that there is a segment of society that supports finding ways to keep guns out of the hands of the few who have unlawful intentions.

"Since Friday morning a policie officer was gunned down in Memphis leaving four childredn without a father," said Obama, naming several deadly events that have occurred across the country since the Sandy Hook shooting, including a child killed in gun crossfire.

The president said he will use all the powers of his office to prevent what happened at Newtown from happening again.

"It won't be easy but it's not an excuse not to try. I can't do it by myself. We will need parents, pastors, law enforcement officials, counselors and gun owners to join in and help support responsible gun safety laws," he said.

A reporter asked why it has taken this long for Obama to get serious about gun safety, when Newtown was not the only massacre in his first term.

"Where have you been?" asked the reporter.

"Well, I've been busy with the worst encomic crisis in recent history, an auto industry on the brink of collapse...two wars...I don't think I've been on vacation," Obama responded bluntly.

Obama went on to say that for the past 15-20 years, any effort to tackle gun safety was seen as an attack on the second amendment and that is not the goal here.

"But it is time to get serious about this issue, because there is a big chunk of space between what the second amendment means and having no rules at all," said the president.

In addition, Biden will be working with stakeholders and other congressional partners in an effort to include new ideas and re-examine old ones, in order to come up with a concrete set of ideas.

The president promised that passions about gun safety would not fade away again after the next event comes along to grab attention: "It can't be that we don't have the sustained attention-span to get this done over the next weeks and months. We will do so and I will be discussing Joe's task force proposals in my State of the Union Address."

When asked about the National Rifle Association, the president said their members include mothers and fathers, too.

"Hopefully, they will do some reflection," he finished.

More information can be found at The Hill.