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Biden urges faith leaders to make gun control a moral issue

Published: Tuesday, May 7 2013 3:15 p.m. MDT

Vice President Joe Biden delivers the keynote speech at the Michigan Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Detroit, Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Associated Press

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Vice President Joe Biden urged religious leaders Monday to continue pressing Congress to pass gun control legislation and to explain the issue in moral terms to their congregations.

Biden met for more than two hours with more than a dozen leaders representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths, among others, to encourage their support and address concerns about proposed gun laws in the wake of December's schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut.

"Citing what he described as misinformation from the National Rifle Association and others, Biden said the renewed push for gun control must correct misconceptions about what the proposals do and don't do, participants said. He asked clergy to keep up the pressure and to reframe the debate for their followers in moral terms," according to an Associated Press report on the private meeting.

CNN reported that Biden assured evangelicals in attendance that the proposed changes, which were voted down in the Senate, would not confiscate guns or create a national gun registry.

"It was a really diverse group, and the vast majority of the people who supported Manchin-Toomey came out absolutely energized, and I think others came out saying, 'I'm going to give this a close look,’ ” said Vincent DeMarco of Faiths United Against Gun Violence.

CNN said that DeMarco was referring to legislation proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, that would have expanded background checks to include private sales at gun shows and all Internet sales, while continuing to exempt most sales between family members and friends.

But several accounts of the meeting reported that another vote on gun legislation won't happen until mid- to late summer.

“He doesn’t think it will come back before they’ve made some pretty good steps on immigration,” Sister Marjorie Clark, a lobbyist for Network, the Catholic social justice organization, told Politico. “He said, ‘I don’t think it will happen before immigration but it will come back.’ ”

Politico said that Biden would be traveling the country, particularly in those states where senators voted against background checks, to push the White House gun control agenda and tweak the legislation to win more votes.

email: mbrown@deseretnews.com

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