Biden taking executive action on gun controls

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (April 8, 2021) — President Joe Biden, in his first gun control measures since taking office, announced a half-dozen executive actions Thursday aimed at addressing a proliferation of gun violence across the nation that he called an "epidemic and an international embarrassment."

Reaction ...


"[President] Biden is targeting homemade and pistol-braced firearms. And he is calling on Congress and states to enact Red Flag gun confiscation orders. Like a dictator, Biden is seeking to unilaterally regulate firearms that gun owners currently own. And he's doing this via executive action – bypassing the constitutional requirements which give Congress the authority to pass legislation."

Erich Pratt
Gun Owners of America


"Nobody from the Biden administration has reached out to us or any other [gun] rights organization to my knowledge, which certainly clarifies Biden's approach to firearms regulation. He came into office talking about unity, but he just declared war on tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners who have committed no crimes.”

"The devil will be in the details [of the executive orders]. Our legal team will review them and we are prepared to file suit if Biden and his administration steps over their legal authority."

Alan M. Gottlieb, executive VP
Second Amendment Foundation


"Biden is threatening our 2nd Amendment rights. He just announced a new liberal power grab to take away our guns. We will NOT allow this in TX. It's time to get legislation making TX a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State passed and to my desk for signing."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
(on Twitter) 


"Biden claims that his actions won't infringe on the 2nd Amendment. That's false. Taking away guns with Red Flag laws is an infringement. Placing new limits on firearms sales is an infringement. Curbing ammo purchases is an infringement."

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem
(on Twitter) 


"President Biden has ordered the DOJ to issue new rules that will surely result in unconstitutional overreach. Republicans will strongly oppose and pursue every option – be it legislative or judicial – to protect the right to keep and bear arms from infringement by this administration."

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy
(on Twitter)

Biden's announcement delivers on a pledge the president made last month to take what he termed immediate "common-sense steps" to address gun violence, after a series of mass shootings drew renewed attention to the issue.

But the announcement underscores the limitations of Biden's executive power to act on guns. His orders tighten regulations on homemade guns and provide more resources for gun-violence prevention but fall far short of the sweeping gun-control agenda he laid out on the campaign trail.

While Biden asserted that he's "willing to work with anyone to get it done," gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly divided Senate, where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals.

Biden was joined at the event by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Garland said he was "under no illusions about how hard it is to solve the problem of gun violence" and emphasized a need for a "collective effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives."

The Justice Department cannot solve the problem by itself, he said, but "there is work for the department to do, and we intend to do it."

Biden is tightening regulations of buyers of "ghost guns" — homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine and often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It's legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.

The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule requiring such gun kits be treated as firearms under the Gun Control Act, which would require that the parts be made with serial numbers and that buyers receive background checks.

Months before Biden was elected, the federal government had already been working on a proposed rule that would change the definition of a firearm to include lower receivers, the essential piece of a semiautomatic rifle, in an effort to combat the proliferation of ghost guns and to stave off losing court battles over the issue.

The process had been in the works in the waning months of the Trump administration, according to four people familiar with the matter. Justice Department leaders and officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had been working on language for a proposed rule since at least the summer of 2020, the people said.

A second proposed rule, expected within 60 days, will tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces, like the one used by the Boulder, Colorado, shooter in a rampage last month that left 10 dead. The rule will designate pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license to own and are subject to a more thorough application process and a $200 tax.

The department also is publishing model legislation within 60 days that is intended to make it easier for states to adopt their own "red flag" laws. Such laws allow for individuals to petition a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

The department also will begin to provide more data on firearms trafficking, starting with a new comprehensive report on the issue. The administration says that hasn't been done in more than two decades.

The Biden administration will also make investments in community violence intervention programs, which are aimed at reducing gun violence in urban communities, across five federal agencies.

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