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White House gun task force meets

21 December 2012, 15:05

Newtown - As residents of Newtown, Connecticut, buried more victims of the second-deadliest school shooting in US history on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden convened a White House task force to search for ways to quell gun violence in the United States.

With funerals for a half-dozen victims on Thursday, services have now been held for more than half of the 27 people shot and killed last Friday by a heavily armed, 20-year-old man who attacked an elementary school with an assault rifle.

Hundreds of mourners packed into a funeral for Benjamin Wheeler, 6, filing into the gray stone Trinity Episcopal Church past two rows of Boy Scouts who lined up outside as a flag-bearing honour guard.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called for residents of his state to observe a moment of silence at 09:30 on Friday, a week after the shootings, and his fellow governors from Maine to Kansas followed suit.

The rampage, in which 28 people died, including 20 children and the gunman, has sparked new discussion on tightening gun laws, a thorny political issue in the United States, which has a strong culture of individual gun ownership.

Biden brought together cabinet members, police officials and others in a 90-minute first meeting of the new White House task force charged by President Barack Obama with drawing up a plan to tackle gun violence in the United States.

"We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut," Biden told the group, which included Attorney General Eric Holder, Thomas Nee, president of the National Association of Police Organisations, and other officials.

"The president is absolutely committed to keeping the promise that he will act," said Biden, who as a senator authored a crime bill in 1994 that included a temporary ban on assault weapons.

- Reuters


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