WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden argued Wednesday that the primary election victory of a gun control advocate to represent Illinois in Congress sends a message that voters won't stand for inaction in response to shooting violence after the Connecticut school shooting.
Robin Kelly was elected Tuesday as the Democratic nominee in a Chicago-area district to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., forced out in an ethics scandal, after running on gun control. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political fund poured $2 million into television ads against an opponent who had been highly rated by the National Rifle Association.
"For the first time since Newtown, voters sent a clear unequivocal signal," Biden told state attorneys general gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.
"The voters sent a message last night, not just to the NRA but to the politicians all around the country by electing Robin Kelly, who stood up, who stood strong for gun safety totally consistent with our Second Amendment rights," Biden said. "The message is there will be a moral price as well as a political price to be paid for inaction. This is not 1994. People know too much."
In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban and some lawmakers who supported it paid an electoral price by being voted out of office. But Biden argued the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six workers has changed the gun debate in a way he's never seen.
"This senseless act not only shocked the conscience of the American people, but I believe it has changed and galvanized the attitude of the American people demanding concrete action. I've been doing this for a long time. The public mood has changed," Biden said, his voice rising to a yell. "The excuse that it's too politically risky to act is no longer acceptable. We cannot remain silent. We have to become the voices of those 20 beautiful children."
Biden has been the White House's leader on pushing for gun control legislation, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and a push for universal background checks. The vice president planned to meet later in the day with Bloomberg at the White House.