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Obama gun violence vow

BARACK Obama is determined to take action against gun violence and may use fast-track laws to prevent attacks like last month's massacre at a primary school, Vice President Joe Biden has said.

Mr Biden spoke as he opened a White House meeting with victims and gun control advocates as part of his bid to produce recommendations the President has asked for by the end of the month.

He said Mr Obama would act quickly and may use executive orders, which do not require congressional approval, as well as other legislation.

The Vice President said: "We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we do everything we're going to do nothing.

"There is a pretty wide consensus on three or four or five things in the gun safety area that could and should be done."

He said the shooting of 20 children in Newtown with a legally bought, high-powered rifle had weighed down the nation's conscience "in a way like nothing I've seen in my career".

Mr Obama hopes to announce his administration's next steps to tackle gun violence shortly after he is sworn in for a second term on January 21.

He has said he wants new gun control measures passed during the first year of his second term, but gun control is a divisive issue in the United States, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution.

A coalition of conservative and gun rights groups is organising a Gun Appreciation Day to coincide with the weekend of Mr Obama's inauguration.

They are calling on people to visit gun stores, gun ranges and gun shows with US flags and "Hands off my gun" signs.

As the shock and sorrow begin to fade over the Connecticut attack, some gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), are already fighting tighter gun restrictions and the Senate's top Republican has warned it could be spring before Congress begins considering any gun legislation.

Mr Biden is due to meet the NRA today.

He said: "We're reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate you fall.

"But the President is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken."

Mr Biden said no decision had been made yet on what these actions would be, and that legislative measures were also under consideration.

Mr Obama wants Congress to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, close loopholes that allow gun buyers to avoid background checks and restrict high-capacity magazines.

Wal-Mart Stores also said it would send a representative to Washington to meet Mr Biden after initially saying it would not send anyone.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is the largest US gun seller.

Meanwhile, the governor of New York, the state with some of the country's strictest gun laws, is proposing bans on all assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The outspoken Republican governor of neighbouring New Jersey, Chris Christie, said policymakers also must address the mental health system, improve access to drug treatment and look at the impact of video games.

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