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Biden visits Conn., pleads for gun control measures

Vice President Joe Biden was thanked by Selectwoman Pat Llodra after speaking at a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn. Biden said the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., fundamentally altered the debate over gun control in the United States.

Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Vice President Joe Biden was thanked by Selectwoman Pat Llodra after speaking at a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn. Biden said the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., fundamentally altered the debate over gun control in the United States.

DANBURY, Conn. — Speaking at a conference on gun violence a dozen miles from the scene of the Connecticut school massacre, Vice President Joe Biden tried to rally support on Thursday for the Obama administration’s gun control proposals.

Biden said the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown fundamentally altered the debate over gun control.

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‘‘America has changed on this issue,’’ Biden said. ‘‘There is a moral price to be paid for inaction.’’

Biden advocated a series of proposals, including universal background checks for gun owners, a ban on many military-style weapons, and a limit on the size of magazines. He said the measures would save lives though he said there was no guarantee they would prevent all mass shootings.

‘‘Fewer children will die,’’ Biden said.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who organized the conference with two other members of the state’s congressional delegation, said those measures are achievable. He said the Newtown shooting dramatically changed the prospects for gun control.

‘‘Newtown has transformed America, and we need to build on that sense of urgency going forward,’’ Blumenthal said. ‘‘Preventing gun violence was thought to be untouchable politically two months ago. That unspeakable horror has given us unstoppable momentum.’’

Also Thursday, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that he wants to immediately ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for the transfer of firearms, and expand Connecticut’s assault weapons ban.

Malloy has expressed frustration that the state Legislature has not acted more quickly to form a response to the Newtown tragedy.

Other speakers urged Congress to honor the memories of the victims with strong action. Chris and Lynn McDonnell, whose 7-year-old daughter Grace was among the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook, spoke earlier at the conference.

‘‘We ask our representatives to look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives we lost and pass meaningful laws to help prevent this from happening again,’’ Lynn McDonnell said, sparking a standing ovation.

Army delays promotion of woman in Petraeus scandal

WASHINGTON — The Army has stalled the promotion of Paula Broadwell, the reservist whose affair with former CIA Director David Petraeus led to his resignation.

Broadwell was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves last August. But Army spokesman George Wright said that was reversed this month and will be pending for as long as she is under investigation.

Investigators have been looking since November into whether Broadwell had classified information in her home without permission.

Under Army rules, a promotion can be delayed if new information about a person comes to light within six months of the promotion. Investigators have said they believe materials found in her home were gathered while she was researching a biography on Petraeus, a retired general and former commander in Afghanistan.

Laura Bush briefly used
to pitch same-sex marriages

DALLAS — A group that supports same-sex marriage will replace ads that include Laura Bush speaking on the topic with a new ad this weekend after Bush said she did not want to be part of its campaign.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition said Thursday that it appreciated Bush’s previous comments, ‘‘but are sorry she didn’t want to be included in an ad.’’ The national advertising campaign of print, television, and online ads that launched this week featured part of a Bush interview on CNN in which she says: ‘‘When couples are committed to each other and love each other then they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.’’

The coalition, made up of more than 80 organizations supporting gay marriage, said the ad was part of ‘‘a public education campaign that will now move to new and different voices that reflect the depth and breadth of our support.’’

The ads that began running Wednesday also included clips of President Obama, former vice president Dick Cheney, and former secretary of state Colin Powell talking favorably about same-sex marriage.

Bush spokeswoman Anne MacDonald has said that Bush asked to be removed from the campaign after learning that she was being featured. MacDonald has said Bush ‘‘did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement nor is she associated in any way with the group that made the ad.’’

Cheney, whose daughter Mary is gay, said in a speech at the National Press Club in 2009 that he supports gay marriage but believes that states, not the federal government, should make the decision. The Respect for Marriage Coalition’s ad campaign featured a clip of Cheney telling the National Press Club that ‘‘freedom means freedom for everyone.’’

Powell was shown in a clip from CNN saying, ‘‘Allowing them to live together with the protection of the law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country.’’ Obama’s quote came from his inaugural address this year during which he said, ‘‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.’’

The new ad starting this weekend features former Marine corporal Craig Stowell, who says that after finding out that his brother was gay he ‘‘wanted the same rights for him.’’

‘‘He was the best man at my wedding and I want to be the best man at his,’’ said Stowell, who notes he is a Republican.

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