Biden To Sidestep Congress In Unveiling Executive Actions On Gun Control

Biden To Sidestep Congress In Unveiling Executive Actions On Gun Control

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
|
April 8, 2021

President Joe Biden will unveil a slew of a half-dozen executive actions Thursday, taking the first step to impose actions focusing on curbing gun violence from the Oval Office, by annexing the power of Congress of doing its job of legislating by using the stroke of a pen in signing possibly unlawful gun control measures.

The series of executive actions Biden will announce includes directing his Department of Justice to begin the process of requiring buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or self-assembled makeshift firearms that don’t have serial numbers to undergo background checks within 30 days, regulating concealed assault-style firearms within 60 days and pistol stabilizing braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately, which aid the weapons’ accuracy and manage recoil.

Biden will also announce new investments in intervention programs in violence-prone communities; a directive to the Justice Department to publish model “red flag” laws for states that allow the temporary removal of guns from people deemed at high risk of harming themselves or others; and a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking.

According to a senior administration official who told reporters Wednesday evening that Biden will not wait for Congress to act, instead taking their own step “solely within the administration’s authority and the Second Amendment — to save lives.” The senior administration officials framed the upcoming announcements as initial steps that would be followed by applying pressure on lawmakers from both sides to act.

Biden, just less than 24 hours following a mass shooting in Colorado urged the Senate to “immediately pass” the pair of House gun-control bills that recently passed in mid-March while threatening that he may take executive action on gun violence, saying “as president, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe.”

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future.” But Biden has acknowledged that passing his massive new $2.3 trillion infrastructure and tax hike plan was his top legislative priority and not gun laws.

However, gun control advocates have maximized their pressure on the Biden White House in pushing the president to act now by first sidestepping congress and look into using certain executive actions they claim would make communities safer from gun violence.

Over 100 House Democrats, including the likes of Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) who is a committee member on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, penned a letter to Biden urging him to take executive action to regulate concealable assault-style rifles. According to Demings, Biden has the ability to regulate under executive order these types of firearms under the National Firearms Act.

“The House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force calls on you to take strong executive action to address serious inequities in the implementation of the National Firearms Act,” the letter states. “For too long, gun manufacturers in order to circumvent the National Firearms Act have designed and marketed concealable AR-15 style firearms which fire rifle rounds. Concealable assault-style firearms that fire rifle rounds pose an unreasonable threat to our communities and should be fully regulated under the National Firearms Act consistent with the intent and history of the law.”

Domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and senior adviser Cedric Richmond have led a series of meetings with gun violence prevention advocates way before the two deadly shootings in Atlanta and Colorado occurred, as well as other prominent groups pushing for strict gun restrictions, community-based groups, and survivors of gun violence. According to a source, they discussed “closing background check loopholes, stopping the proliferation of unregulated and untraceable ‘ghost’ guns, and expanding community-based violence intervention programs.”

In February, on the 3-year-anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, Biden attempted to bring his campaign plan into legislation, but efforts went nowhere.

Biden will make the announcements Thursday from the White House alongside his Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who is in charge of drafting the proposed actions rule. Along with Merrick, members of Congress, groups pushing for firearms restrictions, community organizations, and gun violence survivors will join in the White House event scheduled for Thursday early afternoon.

The president also will name David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at Giffords — an gun control advocacy group founded by former congresswoman and mass-shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords, to be his nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman nomination is going to be tough to get through the 50 Republicans and a few moderate Democrats who represent pro-gun states.

The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

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Mona Salama

Mona Salama