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Obama Appoints Biden to Oversee Newtown Policy Response

"We're going to be serious about making sure that something like Newtown never happens again,” Obama said in a press conference today announcing his administration's response.

President Barack Obama has appointed the vice president to head the administration’s response to the Newtown shootings, a response Obama said Congress should take up early next year and should focus on whether to ban “military-style” assault weapons as well as high-capacity gun magazines.

The president said that while he’s ready to use the power of his office to do something to stop such tragedies from happening again, he added he would need everyone’s help in the country to get it done.

“It won’t be easy, but that’s not an excuse not to try. It’s going to take a wave of Americans ... standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of our kids. It will take commitment, compromise and most of all, it will take courage. We're going to be serious about making sure that something like Newtown never happens again.”

The effort Vice President Joe Biden will head, Obama said, will not be “some Washington commission” that will simply study the issue for six months and then submit a report that will just be shelved.

Instead, he said, Biden will work closely and quickly with other members of Obama’s cabinet, as well as stakeholders in and out of Congress, to come up with a multi-pronged approach to the problem of gun violence in this country and make a recommendation, probably within a month, to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence.”

The Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down by a 20-year-old man using an assault-style rifle, has provided a tipping point for serious political action on gun violence, Obama said.

“This time, the words have to lead to action.”

Asked whether he thought this incident, like ones in the past, would provide debate on gun control but no real action, Obama said he has faith that Americans this time want action.

“The idea that we would say this is terrible and this is a tragedy and ‘never again,’ and to not have the attention span to get this done over the next month would be terrible. And I have more faith in the American people than that."

Also asked about the NRA and its expected opposition to gun control measures, Obama said he is hoping even people in the NRA were shocked enough by the Newtown shootings to be open minded.

“Hopefully they’ll do some self-reflection.”

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