President Joe Biden will act to quell gun violence Thursday by issuing a series of executive orders ordering the Justice Department to limit the proliferation of firearms and appointing a permanent head of the federal agency tasked with combating trafficking in firearms for the first time in years.
The orders and the appointment come after months of waiting by lawyers and after two recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado.
Biden will give the Justice Department 30 days to bring forward a proposal to limit so-called “ghost guns,” which are made from kits containing almost all of the different parts of a weapon without the serial number required by the federal law. The administration said ghost guns were a “growing” problem for law enforcement.
The ministry will also have 60 days to issue model “red flag” legislation for states; develop a proposal clearly indicating when a stabilizer splint causes a pistol to effectively become a short-barreled shotgun, which faces much stricter federal regulations; and resume publication of an annual report on trafficking in firearms.
The administration is also asking federal agencies to quickly begin channeling resources into community violence intervention programs in hopes of quelling an increase in homicides in several of the country’s largest cities.
Collectively, the ordinances represent the administration’s initial effort to make changes to the country’s largely permissive patchwork of gun laws without passing new legislation, which would be subject to the closely-divided Senate filibuster rule. requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to advance.
“The president will not wait for Congress to act before the administration takes our own steps, fully within the administration’s authority and the Second Amendment, to save lives,” an official said. administration during a conference call with reporters Wednesday evening.
Biden is expected to officially unveil the orders on Thursday alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland, when he is also likely to formally appoint David Chipman as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Chipman, a former ATF agent who now works as a senior policy adviser at gun violence prevention group Giffords, is said to be the agency’s first permanent director since 2015. The National Rifle Association has long worked to oppose to almost every candidate for the agency’s leadership, and former President Donald Trump never nominated a candidate.
Gun violence prevention advocates have long said the agency is woefully underfunded.
“One of the president’s priorities is to ensure that the ATF has the leadership and resources to carry out its mission,” said a senior administration official.
In the aftermath of the shooting that killed 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., Biden called on Congress to ban assault-type weapons, close loopholes in the background check system, and place restrictions on the capacity of ammunition stores. The Colorado shooter appeared to be using a pistol with the type of arm splint the administration hopes to regulate more tightly.
The previous week, a gunman had visited three Asian-American-owned massage spas in the Atlanta area and killed eight people.
These mass shootings increased the pressure on Biden to act. Gun violence prevention advocates were frustrated that executive orders on the topic were not part of Biden’s initial blitz when he took office in January.
“We can again ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in this country,” he said at the time, referring to a section of the 1994 Crime Bill that expired under administration. George W. Bush.
Biden said he didn’t “need another minute” to start taking “common sense steps” to quell the violence.
Congress Republicans to deny that mastering the weapons of war would do anything to stop the mass shootings; however, the organization that usually pressures them to vote against reforms – the NRA – is currently stuck in bankruptcy proceedings.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki previously acknowledged that legislation would be needed to bring about permanent change. But she said “there’s a lot of leverage you can take, obviously, as president and vice-president” beyond legislation.
Expecting legal challenges to its new decrees, the Biden administration is said to have consulted the White House office of the council.
Even though Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, most laws require at least 60 senators to agree to end debate before it can be brought to the floor for a final vote.
Although Biden has signaled his support for changing how filibuster works to make it more difficult to use, he stopped before calling for its abolition. On the contrary, Biden has said he supports a return to a so-called “filibuster,” in which senators are required to stand up and speak out about an issue rather than simply threatening to do so. , as is the current standard. Some argue that senators would be more likely to agree to shut down debate – regardless of how they plan to vote on the bill itself – to narrow the resulting political forums.
However, many progressive supporters of the Democratic caucus believe that the total elimination of filibuster is the only way to implement tangible solutions to a range of problems, including gun policy.
At a press conference last month – the first in his presidency – Biden hinted he might be willing to support changing the filibuster rule because of how it has been “abused. “.
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