President Joe Biden spoke on preventing gun violence in the White House Rose Garden in Washington on April 8, 2021.
Brendan Smyalowski AFP | Getty images
President Joe Biden announced on Thursday a series of executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence, while urging Congress to pass broader gun control legislation.
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“It’s an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it needs to stop,” Biden said in a Rose Garden speech.
The White House’s moves include directing the Ministry of Justice to develop a rule aimed at the proliferation of untraceable “ghost weapons” and to publish an example of “red flag” legislation for states to follow.
Red flag laws allow police or family members to petition a court to deny a person access to a firearm. Biden also called for a federal red flag law, saying such a law would prevent suicide, protect women from domestic violence and stop mass gunmen before attacking.
Biden has announced that he will appoint former federal agent David Chipman as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Chipman, who boasts 25 years of experience as an ATF special agent, is a senior policy adviser at the Giffords Arms Protection Group.
Here’s what Biden’s actions will do, according to the White House:
- Encourage the Department of Justice to propose a rule within 30 days to help stop the proliferation of ghost weapons – firearms assembled from kits that often do not have serial numbers and are difficult to trace.
- Instruct the DOJ to develop a rule within 60 days that clarifies the point at which the stabilizing arm clamp effectively converts the pistol into a short-barreled rifle by subjecting this firearm to additional provisions.
- Have the DOJ publish within 60 days a sample of red-flag legislation that allows law enforcement or family members to ask the court to temporarily deny someone access to weapons in certain circumstances. The White House says model legislation will make it easier for states to adopt their own versions of the law.
- Instruct the DOJ to issue a comprehensive report on arms trafficking.
The administration also aims to focus investment in “community violence interventions”, which are methods of reducing gun violence in cities without imprisoning people, the newsletter said. Some metropolitan areas, such as New York, are battling escalating shootings and killings amid a coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech Thursday, Biden complained that gun violence had become, he said, an “international embarrassment” for the United States.
“Our flag was still flying at half the staff for the victims of the horrific killing of eight mainly Asian Americans in Georgia when 10 more lives were killed in a massacre in Colorado,” Biden said.
He spoke after a presentation by Vice President Kamala Harris, and his speech was followed by remarks from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The president stressed that the recently announced actions are only the first steps and put pressure on federal lawmakers to adopt weapons reform proposals that have already been approved by the Democratic-led chamber.
“Congress can do much more to help these efforts, and they can do it right now,” Biden said.
“They offered many thoughts and prayers, members of Congress. But they have not passed any new federal law to reduce violence against guns,” he said.
“Enough prayers; time for action.”
But Biden also said he was “ready to work with anyone to do so” and said he wanted to take further action, including restoring the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“We also need to eliminate gun manufacturers from the immunity they receive from Congress,” Biden said. “If I have anything on my list, the Lord comes down and says, ‘Joe, you take one of them,’ give it to me.”