President Joe Biden speaks on the prevention of gun violence at the Rose Garden in the White House in Washington, DC, on April 8, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive actions aimed at reducing firearms, while urging Congress to pass a broader gun control law.
That bundle of actions, Biden̵
“This is an epidemic for God’s sake, and it must stop,” Biden said in a Rose Garden speech.
White House movements include instructing the Department of Justice to draft a rule aimed at spreading untraceable “ghost weapons” and publish an example of “red flag” legislation that states must follow.
The Red Flag Act allows police or family members to petition a court to prevent a person from accessing firearms. Biden also called for a federal law on red flags, saying such legislation would prevent suicide, protect women from domestic violence and stop mass shooters before carrying out an attack.
Biden announced he would appoint former federal agent David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Boasting 25 years of experience as an ATF Special Agent, Chipman is a senior policy adviser to the arms control group Giffords.
Here’s what Biden’s actions will do according to the White House:
- Have the Department of Justice propose a rule within 30 days to help stop the spread of ghost weapons – firearms assembled from sets that often lack serial numbers and are difficult to track.
- Refer the DOJ to develop a rule within 60 days that clarifies the point at which a stabilizing armband effectively converts a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, subjecting the firearm to additional rules.
- Instruct the DOJ to publish a model of red flag legislation within 60 days, which allows law enforcement officials or family members to ask the court to temporarily prevent anyone from accessing weapons in certain circumstances. The White House says the legislation on models will make it easier for states to pass their own versions of this law.
- Instruct the DOJ to issue a comprehensive arms trade report.
The administration also aims to focus investment in “societal violence interventions”, which are methods of lowering gun violence in cities without imprisoning people, the fact sheet said. Some metropolitan areas, such as New York City, are struggling with an increase in shootings and killings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech on Thursday, Biden lamented that in his view, weapons have become “an international embarrassment” for the United States
“Our flag was still flying towards half the staff of the victims of the horrific murder of eight primarily Asian Americans in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a massacre in Colorado,” Biden said.
He was speaking after an introduction by Vice President Kamala Harris, and his speech was followed by remarks by Justice Minister Merrick Garland.
The president stressed that the recently announced actions were only initial steps and claimed pressure on federal lawmakers to pass arms reform proposals already approved by the House of Representatives.
“There’s a lot more that Congress can do to help that effort, and they can do it right now,” Biden said.
“They have offered lots of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress. But they have not passed a single new federal law to reduce firearms,” he said.
“Enough prayers; time for action.”
But Biden also said he was “willing to work with everyone to get this done”, and expressed a desire to take further action, including reintroducing a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“We should also remove gun manufacturers from the immunity they get from Congress,” Biden said. “If I get one thing on my list, Lord came down and said, ‘Joe, you get one of these,’ give me one.”