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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:21 pm

Biden to promote gun control in pro-gun Virginia

By NEDRA PICKLERAssociated Press

Vice President Joe Biden is launching a White House campaign of road trips to promote gun control with a visit to Virginia, a state that has experienced its own school shooting tragedy yet maintains an avidly pro-gun tradition.

Biden will travel to Richmond on Friday along with other Obama administration officials and Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the White House announced Wednesday. And on Thursday, Biden will take questions on ways to reduce gun violence during a Google Hangout, an interactive video chat that will stream live on the White House website and on the Google Plus social network.

President Barack Obama said last week that he wants Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The president conceded passage will be difficult, with support for gun ownership rights strong among lawmakers.

Biden headed the president's task force to study gun violence in the wake of last month's massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. White House aides say Obama also plans to travel to push the issue, although his destinations have not yet been announced.

Virginia lawmakers have been debating a bill to require that private sellers conduct criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows. The current law only requires dealers to conduct the checks. Some of the survivors and families of victims of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 have been leading the push for tighter gun control measures.

Gun shows are a frequent event around the Richmond area, and the Virginia General Assembly has been overwhelmingly supportive of gun ownership rights under both Democratic and Republican leadership.