Politics ‘Gun violence is an epidemic’: Biden cracks down on homemade, modified firearms in first gun control action
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President Biden took executive action Thursday to plug loopholes in the law that allow for the unregulated sale of a shadowy category of makeshift firearms, marking his first effort to beef up gun control in the wake of another rash of harrowing mass shootings.
Biden announced the actions — which are relatively limited in scope and do not outright ban any type of weapons — during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, where he made a point of repeatedly calling American gun violence “an epidemic” without parallel in the rest of the world.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said after noting that 300 people are shot in the U.S. every day, with another mass shooting leaving five people dead in South Carolina just on Wednesday. “This is an epidemic for god’s sake and it has to stop.”
What are ghost guns?: Biden executive action targets 'dangerous' and 'untraceable' firearms
President Joe Biden will target "ghost guns" with executive actions on Thursday. Here's what to know about the "dangerous" and "untraceable" firearms.Among the actions Biden will announce is directing the Department of Justice to propose a rule within 30 days to stop the proliferation of "ghost guns," a sort of untraceable weapon often made from a kit that currently does not require a background check.
Biden’s announcement makes good on a pledge he made in March to take “common sense steps” to address gun violence in the U.S. after mass shootings in Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta left 18 people dead within one week last month.
Still, Biden acknowledged that his executive power only goes so far and reiterated his call for Congress to pass legislation to ban assault rifles and expand the federal background check system.
“Enough prayers — time for some action,” Biden, a devout Catholic, said in reference to the common refrain of Republicans offering “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of mass shootings without taking steps to enact beefed-up gun control laws.
The top-line action in Biden’s Thursday announcement directs the Justice Department to craft a new rule for so-called “ghost guns,” firearms that are sold in kits that can be assembled at home.
6 Bold Ideas for Gun Reform That Could Actually Happen
Gun violence prevention advocates are rallying behind these state and local-level initiatives that don't count on major action from the federal government. 1. Protecting home rule from state preemptionSince the 1980s, the NRA has been lobbying state legislatures to strip cities and counties of the authority to enact their own municipal gun ordinances. This type of legislation is called preemption, and it’s pervasive—there are now broad firearms preemption laws in 43 states.
Ghost guns generally do not have serial numbers, and there’s no federal requirement for buyers to undergo a background check, making the proliferation of such weapons nearly impossible to track.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, appearing with Biden in the Rose Garden, said the new Justice Department rule, expected within 30 days, will “plug that gap” by requiring ghost gun manufacturers to use serial numbers and mandating buyers to undergo the same background checks in place for regular firearms sales.
President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/)
A second Justice Department rule unveiled by Biden would tighten regulations on stabilizing braces, which allow users to turn pistols into short-barreled rifles without having to disclose them as such.
Biden action on guns draws praise, skepticism
President Biden on Thursday rolled out a series of executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence that earned plaudits from advocacy groups and Democrats, but skepticism remains about whether they will lead to meaningful change.Anti-gun-violence groups, lawmakers and people who have lost loved ones in mass shootings were overwhelmingly supportive of Biden's six-pronged approach to curbing gun violence, saying it was long overdue for a president to take matters into their own hands."President Biden's actions and the agenda that he outlined will tangibly affect gun violence in all of its forms.
The alleged Boulder shooter appears to have used a stabilizing brace, allowing him to fire bullets at a faster clip. Under the new Biden rule, expected within 60 days, pistols with stabilizing braces would be officially labeled short-barreled rifles, a distinction that requires an advanced federal license subject to a more thorough application process as well as a $200 tax.
Biden’s batch of executive actions also includes a directive for the Justice Department to publish model legislation within 60 days that would make it easier for states to adopt “red flag” laws, which empower individuals to petition a court to let police confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Another action orders the department to provide more data on firearms trafficking, starting with a new comprehensive report on the issue, research that hasn’t been conducted in more than two decades, according to the Biden administration.
The prospect for Congress to pass a ban on assault rifles or other sweeping gun control legislation appears slim, with Republicans in both chambers remaining rigidly opposed to making it harder for Americans to buy nearly any type of firearm.
Despitebecause of an ongoing court battle with New York’s attorney general, National Rifle Association continues to hold significant sway over Republicans, who claim any attempts by Biden and Democrats to enact better gun control would infringe on law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Biden slammed the GOP argument as “phony” and “bizarre.”
“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment,” he said. “No amendment to the constitution is absolute.”
Democrats urge Biden to take executive action on assault-style firearms .
A group of more than 100 House Democrats on Wednesday urged President Biden to take executive action on regulating concealable assault-style firearms, after that type of weapon was used in the recent shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo.In a letter to Biden led by Reps. Mike Thompson (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Val Demings (Fla.) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Democratic lawmakers called for action to ensure gun manufacturers can't evadeIn a letter to Biden led by Reps. Mike Thompson (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Val Demings (Fla.) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Democratic lawmakers called for action to ensure gun manufacturers can't evade regulations surrounding certain types of firearms, particularly in the National Firearms Act.