‘We have an obligation to act’

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 30, 2013 - 12:51 PM

Photo: Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Sen. Tim Kaine were among the officials who participated in a discussion on the causes and prevention of gun violence last Friday at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Sen. Tim Kaine were among the officials who participated in a discussion on the causes and prevention of gun violence last Friday at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Vice President Joe Biden joined Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Newport News) for a roundtable discussion on gun violence at Virginia Commonwealth University last Friday.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jim Cole also attended the closed-door discussion, along with VCU officials, including psychiatry professor Bela Sood, who served on the panel that investigated the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.

Reporters and photographers were hustled in and out of the small room where the gathering took place and were given no opportunity to ask questions after a short round of official remarks was made. However, Kaine took a few moments to chat with reporters in the lobby, commenting that the discussion had gone well and that the vice president was "sharp on the details."

Biden told reporters that he wanted to "pick the brains" of people who had dealt with the aftermath of gun violence and who specialize in working with people who have committed violent crimes in order to find out "what we should be doing." He said that mental health parity is important in order to deal not only with mass shootings but also with violent crime in general. Pointing out that there have been 1,200 murders since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he said that he’s talking with people about how to deal with the problem overall, including better husbandry of weapons.