The Biden administration announces a round of executive actions on gun control

By George Wiebe, Staff Reporter

Six executive actions were announced April 7 targeting gun violence following the mass shootings in Boulder, Colo. and Atlanta, Ga.

President Joe Biden described the recent acts of violence as an “epidemic” and “embarrassment” to the country. 

Executive actions, often confused with executive orders, do not carry the weight of the law, but are instead informal proposals, or a call to action on the part of Congress.

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The actions proposed include: 

A proposed ruling by the Justice Department to “help stop the proliferation of ‘ghost guns’” which are self built/assembled firearms that lack commercial serial numbers.

A proposed rule by the Justice Department to “make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle,”. These braces are used to increase the accuracy of a firearm, and notably was used by the shooter in Boulder, Colo. last March. 

A model for “red flag” laws published by the Justice Department, which would allow families or law enforcement to petition for a court ordered restriction on “people in crisis” to access firearms.

Investment in “evidence-based community violence interventions,” a strategy that pritoritizes the prevention of gun violence through targeted interventions, treating the issue as a public health crisis rather than a criminal one.

An annual report on firearms trafficking by the Justice Department as a means of supplying state and local policy makers with “information they need to help address firearms trafficking today.”

Finally, the nomination of David Chipman to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, where Chipman has served as a special agent for 25 years. 

See more: (White House Briefing

Since the announcement of the executive actions, observers on both sides of the gun control debate have criticized the Biden administration. 

Some Republicans believe this to be an overreach by the President aimed at infringing on their second amendment rights.

“I am deeply troubled with Joe Biden’s decision yesterday to pick David Chipman to lead the ATF,” Congresswoman Mary Miller (R. Ill-15) said in a press release. “The ATF has tremendous power and authority, and we all should be very concerned about how Chipman intends to use that power.”

Meanwhile, gun control activists have expressed concern that executive actions are not a strong enough response.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions on gun violence, which did nothing to lower firearm related deaths.

In 2016, more than 33,000 firearm related deaths occurred and in 2019, that number was nearly 40,000.

“He needs to move forward with legislative changes today, now, because what’s at stake is real human life,” Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said.

 Staff reporter George Wiebe can be reached at [email protected]

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