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In Connecticut, Biden urges action on gun control

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By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN | AP

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — Speaking at a conference on gun violence a dozen miles from the scene of the Connecticut school massacre, Vice President Joe Biden tried to rally support Thursday for the Obama administration's gun control proposals.

Biden said the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown fundamentally altered the debate over gun control.

"America has changed on this issue," Biden said. "There is a moral price to be paid for inaction."

Biden advocated a series of proposals, including universal background checks for gun owners, a ban on many military-style weapons and a limit on the size of magazines. He said the measures would save lives though he said there was no guarantee they would prevent all mass shootings.

"Fewer children will die," Biden said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who organized the conference with two other members of the state's congressional delegation, said those measures are achievable. He said the Newtown shooting dramatically changed the prospects for gun control.

"Newtown has transformed America, and we need to build on that sense of urgency going forward," Blumenthal said. "Preventing gun violence was thought to be untouchable politically two months ago. That unspeakable horror has given us unstoppable momentum."

Also Thursday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that he wants to immediately ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for the transfer of firearms and expand the state's assault weapons ban. He has expressed frustration that the state legislature has not acted more quickly to form a response to the Newtown tragedy.

Other speakers urged Congress to honor the memories of the victims with strong action. Chris and Lynn McDonnell, whose 7-year-old daughter Grace was among the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook, spoke earlier at the conference.

"We ask our representatives to look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives we lost and pass meaningful laws to help prevent this from happening again," Lynn McDonnell said, sparking a standing ovation.

The conference at Western Connecticut State University is to push President Barack Obama's gun control proposals.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their Newtown home before going to the school and slaughtering 20 children and six adults. He committed suicide as police arrived.

Malloy, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, state police Capt. Dale Hourigan and the mayors of Bridgeport and Hartford participated, along with other experts in the fields of mental health, law enforcement and education.

Gun makers and lobbyists weren't invited to participate in the conference, but Blumenthal said gun rights advocates will have opportunities in hearings and other forums to express their points of view.
   
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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