On Thursday, April 8th, Biden is set to announce six executive actions on guns and gun violence in the United States. The move comes after he urged Congress to act in the wake of a series of mass shootings in March, including the shooting in Atlanta and the Boulder grocery store shooting, in particular.
Because Congress can’t pass any gun control legislation without eliminating the filibuster, some of Biden’s only moves on guns can be done through executive actions, which are useful but limited in scope and not as permanent as, say, federal law.
Though Biden had urged Congress to act by passing comprehensive background checks — in bills that have passed the House but stall in the Senate, where gun control is anathema to conservatives — he has decided to go several steps further and announce a series of executive actions that will curb gun violence and regulate some gun trafficking.
What Are The Executive Actions?
- A new ATF leader. The administration will nominate David Chipman to direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Biden had promised during his campaign to work on restructuring the ATF to effectively enforce gun laws — and this is a first step.
- Action on “ghost guns.” The administration will direct the Justice Department to issue regulations on “ghost guns” — which are unregulated firearms that can be assembled from parts or 3D printed.
- Pistol control. The administration will work to make sure that AR-15 style pistols fitted with stabilizing braces are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA). Because the weapons are legally pistols, they are harder to regulate.
- More resources to community violence prevention. The president will ask governmental agencies to provide more resources to community violence prevention groups.
- Create “Red Flag” law models. The administration will ask the Justice Department to issue model “red flag laws” guidance. Red flag laws allow families to ask courts to take guns away from people who they believe are threatening or would harm others. Biden can’t push a federal Red Flag law without Congressional action — which seems like a pipe dream at this point.
- Ask the Justice Department for more data on gun trafficking. The Biden admin will direct the Justice Department to publish a report on gun trafficking, a major problem in gun regulation and violence.
Could We Get A Gun Control Law?
The executive actions almost feel like an admission that barring a major change in Congress (see: the abolition of the filibuster or serious reform of it) common-sense gun laws like extended waiting periods, expansive background checks ,and closing background check loopholes will likely never pass.
That being said, it looks like Biden is using what executive power he has to try to start taking action on guns — a far cry from the previous administration. His admin has said these are “initial steps,” per USA TODAY. Likely, Biden will take further steps to push on gun control, but without the support of Congress, those moves will remain to be limited.