President Biden announced Thursday from the Rose Garden that he will be taking executive action and pressuring Congress to address what he calls an “epidemic” of gun violence.
Biden said that he will be “pressing Congress to take more aggressive action by closing background check loopholes, banning assault weapons and stripping gun manufacturers of protection from lawsuits,” reports the New York Times. These executive actions include new rules on firearms sold in kits, dubbed “ghost guns,” that are assembled at home and do not have a serial number, so they cannot be traced. Experts say that these types of firearms are popular within criminal organizations and among right-wing extremists because they do not require background checks to be acquired, and they are virtually untraceable. These types of guns are most popular in states with stricter gun laws.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed two gun control bills, but due to narrow party lines in the chamber, the bills have not made it through the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, which most legislation is subject to. Biden called on the Senate to act and acknowledged that there is a limit to what he can do without Congressional approval, saying, “This is just a start” and admitting that “we have a lot of work to do.”
The president also directed the Justice Department to draft new rules to regulate a device that turns pistols into short-barreled rifles. He also asked the department to “create a template that states can use to enact ‘red flag’ laws, which allow judges to seize firearms from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others,” writes the Washington Post. He ordered the department to issue reports on gun trafficking, as well as allocate money to violence intervention programs.
Biden also used the time to announce his nomination for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, David Chipman, who is an advocate for gun control. He is currently a senior adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, who was injured in a mass shooting in 2011. The bureau has not had a permanent director since 2015, and Chipman will likely face strong opposition in the Senate, but many are hopeful that “he may be able to win narrow approval given the anguish over recent shootings.”
Gun violence has come to the forefront of the public’s attention in the wake of two recent mass shootings, one in Atlanta and one in Colorado, in which eight and ten people were killed, respectively. Biden campaigned extensively on the issue of gun violence, saying that it is one of his top priorities along with COVID-19 relief. Biden also has a history with this issue. When he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden was at the forefront of many gun control initiatives, including the 10-year ban on assault weapons that was included as part of the 1994 Crime Bill, which he sponsored.