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Biden to take the first limited steps on gun control, including on ‘ghost weapons’ and gun bars

The steps – which also include the appointment of a gun control lawyer to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – fulfill a commitment that Biden made in the wake of two deadly shootings last month to take steps with “common sense” immediately address gun violence.

But they lack the far-reaching actions that Biden promised as a candidate to be passed by Congress, including a ban on assault weapons or the adoption of universal background checks. Senior officials framed the forthcoming announcements as initial steps that would be followed by further action later, including the application of pressure on lawmakers to act.

Biden said last month after a mass shooting in Colorado: “I do not have to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future.”

; But he has acknowledged that the adoption of a massive new infrastructure plan – and not new gun laws – is his top legislative priority.

Biden will publish announcements Thursday from the White House along with his attorney, Merrick Garland, whose Department of Justice will be responsible for drafting the proposed rules.

Ghost weapons are handmade or self-assembled firearms that do not have serial numbers. Some can be manufactured in as little as 30 minutes using sets and parts purchased online. Biden will order the Justice Department to issue a proposed rule to “stop the proliferation” of these weapons, though a senior official who previewed the move refused to elaborate on how specifically the rule – within 30 days – could work.

Another proposed rule would be to target stabilizing harnesses for pistols, which help with weapon accuracy and control recoil. Under the new rule, the devices – which the senior official claimed made guns into short rifles – would be subject to rules in the National Firearms Act, including registration requirements. Last month’s mass shooting game in Boulder, Colorado, used a gun modified with an armband, according to a law enforcement source.

The announcements will come as the president is expected to appoint David Chipman as the next director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a White House official told CNN. Chipman is a former ATF agent who serves as senior policy adviser to Giffords, the organization led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun control lawyer after being shot in 2011.

ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

Biden also plans to announce new investments in intervention programs in abused communities; a directive to the Ministry of Justice to publish model “red flag” laws for states that allow the temporary removal of weapons from persons considered to be at high risk of harm to themselves or others; and a comprehensive report on the trade in firearms.

Overall, the actions represent the first real steps from Biden’s administration to combat gun violence. Inside the White House, efforts to devise executive action have been led by White House Home Affairs Council Director Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond’s director of public engagement, administration officials and firearms advocacy groups told CNN.

It included meeting with some of these groups and presenting ideas for steps that Biden himself could take. Some lawyers had complained about steps earlier in the administration, pointing to Biden’s promise to prioritize gun control during his campaign.

But the initial response from gun safety advocates on Wednesday night was positive.

“Each of these executive acts will begin to tackle the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to do good by President Biden’s pledge to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Security. , said in a statement.

“These much-needed executive actions will immediately begin to save lives, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters looks forward to standing behind President Biden as he urges the Senate to follow his lead and act,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms. Demand Action, said in a statement.

During the campaign, Biden had said he would instruct his lawyer to introduce better enforcement of existing gun laws as a means of curbing firearms. He also promised a campaign to send $ 900 million to community programs designed to combat violence, something the administration is figuring out how to carry out.

After last month’s shootings, Biden called on Congress to take steps such as resuming a ban on assault weapons, with Vice President Kamala Harris arguing for executive action on the campaign trail, telling “CBS this morning” that “if we really want something that In order to be sustainable, we need to pass legislation. “
The Democratic-controlled House passed gun laws that would expand the background check on all commercial arms sales last month, but the bills face tougher roads in the Senate, where Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority and need significant Republican support to overcome a legislation filibuster.

Biden acknowledged during a press conference that his main legislative priority was to pass an infrastructure package and that he believed that careful timing was the key to the success of any proposed bills.

And he has acknowledged that his political capital is limited.

“I have not done any counting yet,” he said in March when asked if he thought he had enough votes to implement significant reforms.

As the country’s body posture has evolved, Biden has been front-and-center in every single place along the way for more than three decades, from the triumph of a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994 to the disappointment of a failed push to universal background checks in the wake at the Sandy Hook Massacre.

Recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado had raised the question inside the Western wing about how much political capital Biden should spend on the case, which so often ended in frustration.

This story has been updated with details about Biden’s executive actions and reaction to them.

Kaitlan Collins contributed to this story.

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