Petersburg police chief appointed to White House gun commission

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Six days after tragedy struck Newtown, Conn., Petersburg Police Chief John I. Dixon III met with Vice President Joe Biden for top-level discussions on gun violence. The three hour, closed door meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and five other police chiefs from across the nation focused on what measures could keep powerful weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

"[Biden] said he'll deal with the politics," Dixon said in an interview Thursday. "He wanted to hear how we thought we should solve some of those problems."

President Obama created the gun violence task force to devise new gun safety proposals by January. Dixon said no concrete measures were adopted at the Dec. 20 meeting in Washington, but the group of a dozen people focused on new laws concerning assault weapons.

"We talked about redefining assault weapons and what assault weapons are," Dixon said. "Who should actually be allowed to have assault weapons? Should it be an everyday thing? Or should it be a process you have to go through to get an assault weapon?"

Increasing the scope and duration of background checks was a second measure suggested by most officials on the task force.

"The problem is, [background checks have] such a short turn around. And you don't have the time to actually go through the process and make sure this person should receive a hand gun."

The White House selected Dixon for the task force because of his position as vice president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. He has served as Petersburg's police chief for five years, and said he wants to hear ideas from residents to take to the next meeting in late January.

"I encourage people to send their ideas to my email address," Dixon said. "They can also leave me messages by calling the police department at (804) 732-4222."

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