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Obama to task Biden to tackle gun violence after Newtown shootings

As funerals are held for four more Sandy Hook Elementary victims, President Obama will announce that Vice President Biden will spearhead a panel to formulate gun policies in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. NBC's Craig Melvin reports.

President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Obama is tasking Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime gun control advocate, with spearheading the effort.

In remarks from the White House on Wednesday, Obama will outline a process for pursuing policy changes following the school shooting, though he is not expected to call for specific measures.

Hunter Martin / Getty Images, file

Vice President Joe Biden

The president has vowed to use "whatever power this office holds" to safeguard the nation's children after Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school by a gunman carrying an arsenal of ammunition and a high-powered, military-style rifle.

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The incident has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms.

Many pro-gun lawmakers also have called for a greater focus on mental health issues and the impact of violent entertainment.

Obama also prefers a holistic approach, with aides saying stricter gun laws alone are not the answer.

The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd discusses the difficulties of implementing gun control laws with Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

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"It's a complex problem that requires more than one solution," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. "It calls for not only re-examining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions."

Still, much of the immediate focus after the shooting is on gun control, an issue that has been dormant in Washington for years. Obama expended little political capital on gun issues during his first term, despite several mass shootings, including a movie theater attack in Aurora, Colo., in the midst of this year's presidential campaign.

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The White House has begun to signal that Obama may be more proactive on gun issues following the murders of the elementary school youngsters, ages 6 and 7.

Carney said Obama was "actively supportive" of legislation to reinstate a ban on assault-style weapons that expired in 2004.

The president long has supported a ban, but exerted little effort to get it passed during his first term.

Obama also would support closing a gun-show loophole allowing people to buy arms from private dealers without background checks and would be interested in legislation limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines, Carney said.