President Biden on Thursday took a series of modest steps to tackle what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence, acknowledging that “much more needs to be done” and urging Congress to take more aggressive action by removing them. gaps in background checks, banning assault weapons and stripping gun manufacturers of protection from prosecution.
“We have a long way to go, it seems we still have a long way to go,” Biden said, acknowledging the limits of the measures he can implement without Congress. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it is an international embarrassment.”
Mr Biden said the Justice Department will release a proposed rule to curb the proliferation of so-called ghost guns – kits that allow a firearm to be assembled from parts without a serial number. The intention of the rule would be to require that kit components have serial numbers that would allow them to be traced and that guns be legally classified as firearms, with buyers subject to a background check.
“I want to see these kits treated as firearms under gun control law,” Biden said.
Ghost guns, experts said, have become particularly attractive to criminal organizations and right-wing extremists who want untraceable guns that don’t require background checks. They are often linked to shootings in states like California, which have instituted strict gun laws.
Mr Biden also said he would demand that when a device marketed as a stabilizer brace transforms a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that weapon be subject to the requirements of the national firearms law. The Boulder, Colo., Shooter who fired last month used a pistol with an arm splint, which makes it more stable and accurate, he said.
Mr Biden said the Justice Department will also issue model “red flag” legislation for states. The measure would allow police and family members to ask a court to temporarily remove firearms from people who may pose a danger to themselves or to others.
While Mr Biden cannot pass national red flag legislation without Congress, officials said the purpose of the guidelines was to make it easier for states wishing to pass it to do so now. The ministry also plans to publish a comprehensive report on gun trafficking, which it has not done since 2000.
“Red flag laws can stop mass shooters before they can carry out their violent plans,” Biden said, adding that he wanted to see national law.
Outside of mass shootings, gun violence remains the leading cause of death among black men aged 15 to 34, Biden said in his remarks, noting that the additional funding he proposed for community violence can save lives.
The initiatives announced Thursday do not match the scope of his engagement on the issue during his career, particularly his tenure as a senator. In 1993, Mr. Biden was instrumental in passing the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. A year later, he helped authorize a 10-year ban on assault weapons.
Mr. Biden admitted that there isn’t much he can do without Congress. “This is just the start,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
The House passed two gun control bills last month, but they are languishing in the Senate at the 60-vote threshold in the chamber for passage of most laws, which requires support from the Senate. at least 10 Republicans. Mr. Biden called on the Senate to act.
Mr Biden also announced his appointment of David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The office has not had a permanent director since 2015.
While Mr. Chipman’s selection is good news for gun control groups, few of the candidates proposed by Mr. Biden have faced a higher chance of confirmation in the Senate. Still, his allies believe he might be able to get close approval given the angst over the recent shootings.
In 2006, lawmakers allied with the National Rifle Association passed a provision subjecting the post of director of the ATF, which was previously a political appointment, to Senate confirmation. As a result, only one director, the candidate of Obama B. Todd Jones, has been confirmed in the past 15 years.