Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced stop at the Virginia Tech shooting memorial Wednesday, the Huffington Post reports. The vice president became emotional when recalling his own personal tragedy.
Biden was asked by a pool reporter what the memorial meant to him and, surprisingly, answered the question despite his staff’s attempt to make the reporter go away. Biden said:
“It means. [Pause] I’ll tell you what it means. It means to me that – it reminds you how precious life is. And that – you know I think of those kids, but I also think of their parents. No child should predecease their parents. I remember what it’s like. [Pause] It brings back, [pause] It brings back memories. Whether it’s that call, out of the blue that you get, and it’s like how could this happen.”
Biden was referring to the death of his wife and 13-month-old daughter on December 18, 1972. His wife’s station wagon was hit by a tractor trailer as she pulled out from an intersection in Hockessin, Delaware. Neilia Biden and daughter Naomi were killed in the accident. Biden’s two sons, Beau and Hunter, were critically injured but made full recoveries.
The vice president’s emotional response was also for another reason. When he was in the Senate, gun violence was one of his top legislative priorities. He supports reinstating a federal ban on semi-automatic rifles and voted against prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
In 2008, Joe Biden said the federal government could have prevented the Virginia Tech shooting by not letting the assault weapons ban lapse, by closing the gun show loophole, and by allowing the school to remove a student from campus if a teacher determines that he or she is a danger. He has also voted yes on more background checks at gun shows and voted no on allowing gun dealers to sell handguns without trigger locks.