President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled six executive actions intended to address what his administration calls the current “gun violence public health epidemic” facing America. Included among the actions were forthcoming regulations on so-called “ghost guns” — makeshift weapons which can be assembled at home or that lack a serial number — and model “red flag” laws.
The actions come nearly 80 days into Biden’s presidency, despite the president’s long-standing intent to initiate gun reform and pressure from gun control advocates to enact measures to restrict firearm access earlier. In his rollout of the actions, the administration cited a spate of recent mass shootings as an impetus.
“The recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder — taking the lives of 10 individuals — and Atlanta — taking the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian American women — underscored the relentlessness of this epidemic,” reads a news release issued by the White House.
What are the details?
The first action directs the Department of Justice to issue a rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns” within 30 days.
“We are experiencing a growing problem: criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes,” the news release stated. “When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number.”
Under the second action, the DOJ is commissioned to issue a rule “make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.”
In the third action, Biden directs the DOJ to publish model “red flag” legislation — which allows a family member, friend, or member of law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily bar a troubled or dangerous individual from accessing a gun. The administration suggested that the model legislation could act as a stand-in until Congress and state legislatures pass permanent red flag legislation of their own.
The fourth and fifth actions, respectively, outline investments in “community violence interventions” and direct the DOJ to publish an annual report on firearms trafficking.
Lastly, for the sixth action, Biden announced his intention to nominate David Chipman, a gun reform advocate, to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a key agency in gun law enforcement.
With the rollout of new actions, it appears the Biden administration is trying to toe the line. The administration likely hopes the measures will temporarily satisfy Democratic lawmakers in Congress and progressive activists, who have been relentless in their calls for stricter gun laws.
But the new actions don’t go anywhere near as far as expected based on the promises Biden made during his presidential campaign.
As a candidate, Biden pledged that on day one of his presidency he would reinstate a ban on assault weapons, launch a voluntary gun buyback program, and close a litany of supposed background check loopholes, among other actions.