President Joe Biden addresses gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 8, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive measures to reduce gun violence and called on Congress to pass broader gun control laws.
The bundle of action, Biden’s first attempt as president to address tense guns politics in America, was revealed after a spate of mass shootings across the country, including on Thursday in South Carolina where five people were shot. There have been further deadly mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and California in the past three weeks.
“This is an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it has to stop,” Biden said in a speech in the rose garden.
Actions by the White House include instructing the Justice Department to develop a rule to combat the proliferation of undetectable “ghost rifles” and to publish an example of “red flag” legislation to be followed by states.
Red flag laws allow the police or family members to take a court to exclude a person from access to firearms. Biden also called for a federal red flag law that would prevent suicides, protect women from domestic violence, and stop mass shooters before they launch an attack.
Biden announced that he would appoint former federal agent David Chipman to head the alcohol, tobacco and firearms bureau. Chipman, who served 25 years as an ATF Special Agent, is Senior Policy Advisor to Gifford’s Gun Control Advocacy Group.
According to the White House, Biden’s actions will:
- Instruct the Justice Department to propose a rule within 30 days to stop the proliferation of ghost guns – firearms made up of kits that often lack serial numbers and are difficult to track.
- Instruct the DOJ to create a rule within 60 days that clarifies the point at which a stabilizing armrest will effectively turn a pistol into a short barrel rifle, making that weapon subject to additional regulations.
- Instruct the DOJ to release within 60 days a model of the Red Flag legislation that law enforcement officers or family members can use to request a court to temporarily ban someone from access to weapons under certain circumstances. The White House says the model legislation will make it easier for states to pass their own versions of this law.
- Instruct the DOJ to issue a comprehensive report on the arms trade.
Biden also called on Congress to end gun manufacturers’ broad immunity for being sued for shootings.
The government also hopes to focus investment in “community violence interventions,” which are methods of reducing gun violence in cities without incarcerating people, the fact sheet said. Some metropolitan areas, such as New York City, are grappling with an increase in gun crime and homicides amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech on Thursday, Biden complained that gun violence had become an “international embarrassment” for the US
“Our flag was still waving with half the staff for the victims of the horrific murder of eight mainly Asian-American people in Georgia when a mass murder in Colorado killed ten more,” said Biden.
He spoke after an introduction from Vice President Kamala Harris, and his speech was followed by remarks from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The President emphasized that the newly announced measures were only the first steps and increased pressure on the federal legislature to pass proposals for weapons reform that had already been approved by the democratically run House.
“There’s a lot more Congress can do to support this effort, and it can be done now,” said Biden.
“You have offered many thoughts and prayers, Members of Congress. But you haven’t passed a single new federal law to reduce gun violence,” he said.
“Enough prayers; time for action.”
But Biden also said he was “ready to work with anyone to make this happen,” and expressed a desire to take additional measures, including reintroducing a ban on offensive weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“We should also exclude gun manufacturers from the immunity they receive from Congress,” Biden said. “When I have one thing on my list, Lord would come down and say, ‘Joe, you get one of these,’ give me this.”