Biden to announce several executive actions to tackle gun violence

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WASHINGTON – President Biden is expected to unveil a series of executive actions against gun violence on Thursday, weeks after consecutive mass shootings have left 18 people dead and brought the issue of gun legislation to the fore for an administration tackling multiple crises.

Mr Biden is also expected to announce his intention to appoint David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, officials said. The office has not had a permanent director since 2015.

The measures come as Mr Biden has been under pressure to tackle gun violence, but has made it clear that pushing legislation through a blockade of the Republican opposition is currently not feasible. Officials reiterated on Wednesday that the proposals the president was planning to unveil with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland were just the start and the president would continue to call on Congress to act.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Justice will announce three initiatives to combat armed violence.

A rule would help stop the proliferation of so-called ghost guns – kits that allow a gun to be assembled from parts. White House officials would not say whether the administration would ultimately seek to classify phantom weapons as firearms, only that the department was trying to prevent criminals from purchasing kits that contained all of the components and instructions for build one.

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A second rule would specify that when a device marketed as a stabilizer splint transforms a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that weapon is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The Boulder, Colo., Shooter who fired last month used a pistol with an arm splint, making it more stable and accurate, officials said.

Finally, the Ministry of Justice will also publish 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.

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Officials also said the administration would also invest in an evidence-based community violence response, although they did not provide any dollar figures. They also wouldn’t say if they planned to try to increase the budget for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Guns and Explosives, a move gun control advocates have insisted on. .

With Congress unlikely to pass gun legislation, the White House has stressed the importance of executive actions as a more realistic starting point for delivering on Mr. Biden’s campaign promises to end gun violence. Susan E. Rice, Director of the Home Policy Council, was the administration’s resource person for the executive’s next actions.

Yet gun control groups that backed Mr Biden’s candidacy criticized the president for not making gun legislation a top priority, as he had promised during the campaign. electoral.

For others, Mr Biden’s decision to go ahead with his ambitious jobs and infrastructure plan – even after two mass shootings – represented a more pragmatic approach from a confronted president to several crises and Republican opposition to gun control measures.

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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.

Officials who laid out Mr Biden’s first steps in tackling gun violence on Wednesday stressed that this was only a “first round of action,” tempering expectations of more fleshy initiatives or more specific noting that Mr. Garland had been Attorney General for less than a month. .

“These much-needed executive actions will start saving lives right away,” said Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, “and our People’s Army of nearly six million supporters look forward to support President Biden. as he urges the Senate to follow his example and act.

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