Vice President Joe Biden turned a VCU conference room into a situation room Friday, as he hosted the first of multiple gun safety roundtables set to take place across the nation.
The roundtable focused on mental health and background check initiatives, leaving out discussion of a controversial assault weapons ban introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) Thursday.
"This tragedy has shaken our national conscious," Biden said, referring to the December massacre in Newtown. "We have an obligation to act, and the time is now."
The roundtable focused on devoting unprecedented resources to mental health professionals, with more money to fund long-term research.
"We need to know under what circumstances are you able to identify people with a propensity [to commit these acts," Biden said. "Secondly, how and when we should intervene, if we can intervene."
Sen. Tim Kaine also joined the roundtable, issuing sharp criticism to Virginia lawmakers who shut down the possibility of the state adopting background checks.
"Anyone who does not support these background checks essentially wants to put guns in the hands of felons," Kaine said Friday. "I am disappointed, but not surprised by the General Assembly in this instance."
Petersburg Police Chief John I. Dixon, III also joined Friday's roundtable. Four gun safety bills have now been introduced in Congress based in part on the recommendations of Biden's gun safety task force.
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