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'Sheriff' Joe Biden and White House gun control

President Obama famously introduced his vice president as "Sheriff" Joe Biden in 2009, claiming Biden would be the keeper of stimulus money.
White House photo
White House photo

President Obama famously introduced his vice president as "Sheriff" Joe Biden in 2009, claiming Biden would be the keeper of stimulus money.

It's a nickname you may hear again today—but with a far different significance.

The president this morning will tap Biden to spearhead the White House response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

Watch the event live from the Brady Press Briefing room on msnbc at 11:45 am.

On Tuesday, the White House signaled in the boldest terms yet that the president and this administration is ready to act on the complex issue of gun control reform.

Among policies already under discussion are renewing the federal assault weapons ban and closing gun show loopholes.

Even the NRA, breaking its Newtown silence Tuesday during our air, pledged a "meaningful contribution" to the debate.

Biden has, through his career, earned his F-rating from the NRA. His work as Delaware senator in scripting and pushing the federal ban was pivotal in getting the legislation onto President Clinton's desk in 1994.

Beyond the firearm, Biden often has spoken about the need for more law enforcement, better mental health, and more extensive background checks.

Gun control was an issue in 2007 and 2008 during his run for presidency and ultimately on the campaign trail as Barack Obama's running mate.

The Virginia Tech massacre, after all, was very fresh in the minds of Americans.

Biden at one point argued against the perception pushed by the McCain-Palin ticket that he and then-Senator Obama would take away American guns if they won the White House.

"Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey," Biden said, using one of his favorite euphemisms. "If he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."

Biden was at his classic best in a 2007 CNN Democratic primary debate in which a YouTube questioner asks about gun control and protecting "our babies"—only to hoist what appears to be a weapon as fierce as the Bushmaster rifle used by Adam Lanza as his primary firearm in Newtown. The questioner introduced the gun as "his baby."

"If that's his baby, he needs help," Biden tells moderator Anderson Cooper, to mixed laughs and snickers. "I think he just made an admission against self-interest, I don't think he's qualified to own that gun."

It was characteristic Biden—a laughline he quickly turned into a sharp political statement.

Biden may now have his greatest stage yet to help curb violence yet—and really protect America's babies, like the 20 first grade students killed Friday.