Biden Calls U.S. Gun Violence ‘International Embarrassment’
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden announced a set of executive actions Thursday to curb gun violence, urging Congress to adopt stricter laws and rebutting arguments that his new measures impinge on Americans’ second amendment rights.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Recent shootings that left 18 dead in Colorado and Georgia have thrust gun violence back into the spotlight, with gun-control advocates calling on the president to make the issue a top legislative priority. The actions unveiled Thursday reflect the limited power the president has to regulate guns without action on Capitol Hill.
Biden has called on Congress to pass gun control legislation, but he has also acknowledged that Republican opposition makes progress unlikely. He said he first wants to focus on beating the coronavirus pandemic and boosting an economic recovery.
In addition to the orders, Biden announced his plan to nominate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF -- an agency that has been without a permanent director since 2015.
One of the executive actions would take steps to stop the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, which come in kits and can be assembled in as little as 30 minutes. The weapons can’t be traced by law enforcement because they lack serial numbers. Two high-profile shootings in California were carried out using ghost guns but they have otherwise not been commonly used in mass shootings.
“Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit,” Biden said.
The ATF said in a December 2020 search warrant application that about 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in 2019.
The White House also said Thursday that the Justice Department will issue a new rule clarifying that when a shoulder brace is used to effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, the gun is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. Authorities say the suspect in the Boulder, Colorado, shootings -- in which 10 people were killed -- used a pistol with an arm brace that made the weapon more stable and accurate.
In addition, the Justice Department will publish model “red flag” legislation for states, which would allow petitions to courts to take away firearms from people who present a danger to themselves and others. Such measures can’t be enacted at the federal level without Congress, but administration officials have said they hope their move encourages states to pass new laws right away.
A gunman last month killed eight people, including six Asian women, at spas during a string of shootings in the Atlanta area.
The president also said he is allocating federal funds for community violence intervention and prevention programs aimed at heading off conflicts that can lead to violence in urban communities. Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan includes $5 billion over eight years for community intervention programs.
(Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for universal background checks and gun-control measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.)
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