California student shoots classmate with shotgun

A 16-year-old student armed with a shotgun opened fire in a California classroom Thursday, critically wounding one of his classmates.

Police say a teacher and administrator at the high school in the town of Taft, about 200 kilometers north of Los Angeles, convinced the student to put down his weapon, allowing other students to leave the classroom.

The shooting came less than a month after 20 children and six adults were killed at a Connecticut elementary school in a mass shooting that prompted an intense debate over gun control.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading a task force on reducing the violence, held a tense meeting Thursday with a representative of the powerful U.S. gun lobby, the National Rifle Association,

Following the talks, the NRA issued a toughly worded statement saying Biden was more interested in doing away with gun rights than protecting school children. The White House did not comment on the statement.

Earlier Thursday, Biden said he will deliver his policy recommendations to the president by Tuesday, and that they will likely include background checks for all gun buyers and a limit on high-capacity ammunition clips.

Many say the proposal will also include the renewal of a ban on high-powered assault weapons, which Congress allowed to expire in 2004.

The vice president has already met with hunting associations, victim support groups, movie-makers, and mental health and law enforcement professionals as part of what the White House says is an effort to reach consensus on a set of recommendations.

President Barack Obama expects to announce his plans to deal with gun violence shortly after beginning his second term in office. He is expected to seek congressional approval for the proposals, but may also try to get some of the objectives done through executive orders.

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