On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading the White House effort to reduce gun violence, met with House Democrats on the task force Nancy Pelosi created to do the same. Rep. Elizabeth Esty was one of the twelve members of the task force to attend the meeting, where Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan were also present.
“It was a very good, productive meeting,” said Esty. “I was encouraged by the commitment that I heard from everyone around the table to common sense gun polices that keep our children and communities safer.”
Esty mentioned several policy initiatives discussed and described a shared commitment to enhancing mental health services, expanding background checks, and making information on gun violence more accessible. She also said there was a “growing consensus that high capacity magazines are a very serious, dangerous issue that needs to be addressed.”
Not all of the measures that Esty and many other Democrats support have unanimous approval though. The assault weapons ban, for example, is something that Esty says has drawn a lot of discussion and while she would support reinstating it that may not be viable in the House. “It’s not at all clear that there is political support to pass that,” she said.
According to Esty, both the meeting and her work on the task force indicat that Newtown has changed the way people approach this issue and signal legislative change is within reach. “I am encouraged by the depth of commitment and seriousness around these issues at the table by people who have been working on them for thirty years,” she said. “They all expressed the view that this is different. They are hearing sportsmen and gun owners saying this is different, this can’t go on anymore, there have to be steps that we take to make our communities and our children safer.”