U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder coming to Newtown

Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Newtown on Thursday to meet law enforcement officials and investigators who are examining the school massacre there, a Justice Department official told Reuters this morning.

Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement official, will go after his scheduled meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and other cabinet officials about measures to reduce gun violence, the official said.

Federal law enforcement officials have been assisting local and state investigators to try to determine why and how the shooter killed 20 children and six adults on Friday.

In Newtown, Holder will meet with first responders and law enforcement officials.

The official requested anonymity because Holder’s visit to Newtown is not a public trip. He will not be doing any public events during the visit.

Gunman Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday, killing 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.

Biden convened the first meeting of his working group to explore solutions following the Newtown shooting.

Biden met with Thomas Nee, President of the National Association of Police Organizations, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, President of Police Executive Research Forum and Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Education Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius also attended, as well as other law enforcement representatives and senior White House officials.

Biden acknowledged that he has long working relationships with many leaders in the law enforcement community, many of whom worked with him to help write the 1994 crime bill. Biden said many of them helped come up with ideas about community policing, among other initiatives. “I’ve worked with some of you for a long, long time,” he said.

Biden said, “We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut.”

Biden added, “The president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act and we will act in a way that is designed – even if as he says we can only save one life — we have to take action.”

Biden said that “there’s some things we can immediately do, and we’re going to need your help.” He said he sees “no reason” why the assault weapons ban can’t pass the Congress. “Quite frankly, you guys helped me write it,” he said. (Check transcript for this full quote; audio in this portion is hard to hear clearly.)

“We’ve worked on everything from cop-killer bullets to type of weapons that should be off the street,” Biden added. “That’s what I want to talk to you about today, I want to hear your views, because for anything to get done we’re going to need your advocacy.”

Jim Shay