Guns Within Reach

Joe Biden on Gun Safety

The vice president has played a leading role in the White House's gun-control legislation efforts (see below). Watch his Parents Facebook town-hall forum at parents.com/biden and check out these additional responses to our readers' queries.

Q. What is the White House doing to help those with mental illness get treatment before they pick up guns and act out? -- Julie Lancaster Kennicutt

A. First off, I want to point out that the vast majority of Americans with a mental illness are not violent. In fact, they are more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators. Our priority is to identify mental-health problems and make services affordable and available, especially for young people. We can start in our schools by training teachers to recognize the signs of mental-health problems and learn ways to get help for these kids. We're also proposing to train more than 5,000 new mental-health professionals to serve young people. And we're putting forward regulations to expand insurance coverage of mental-health services for 62 million Americans.

Q. On the fifth anniversary of Sandy Hook, will we be able to tell affected family members, "Your loved one did not die in vain?" -- Sue Aleshire Delabruere

A. I think that horrific event changed everything. The American people are demanding action and know there is a moral price to be paid for inaction. The president and I realize that even if we succeed in passing our entire gun-safety package, we can't save every life. We can't guarantee that another mother won't receive a dreaded phone call. But things will be a lot better. Fewer people will be victims. Fewer futures will be stamped out. Fewer kids will die. That's what this fight is all about.

Highlights of the White House Plan

  • Require universal background checks for all firearm sales, including those at gun shows and through private sellers.
  • Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons.
  • Limit ammunition magazines to ten rounds of bullets to prevent semiautomatic weapons from causing mass violence.
  • Ensure that each school has an emergency-response plan in place and make schools safer by adding resource officers and counselors.
  • Improve the quality of mental-health treatment, especially for young people, to help individuals get the help they need before dangerous situations develop.

Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Parents magazine.

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