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Biden to unveil gun stocks, including new ATF boss

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is preparing to unveil a series of executive actions aimed at tackling gun violence, delivering his first major action on gun control since taking office.

Biden will also appoint David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser to gun control group Giffords, on Thursday as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to senior officials at the Giffords. ‘Biden administration.

Biden has faced mounting pressure to act on gun control after a spate of mass shootings across the United States in recent weeks, but the White House has repeatedly stressed the need for legislative action on guns. As the House passed a background check bill last month, gun control measures face slim prospects in an equally divided Senate, where Republicans remain almost unified against most of the proposals. .

Biden will be joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland at the event, and most of the action will come from the Department of Justice.

Biden is expected to announce tougher regulations requiring buyers of “ghost guns” to submit to a background check. Homemade firearms – often assembled from parts and machined with a metal-cutting machine – often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It is legal to build a firearm in a home or workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.

The president’s plans were previewed by someone familiar with the expected actions who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Senior administration officials have confirmed that the Justice Department will release a new proposed rule to limit phantom weapons within 30 days, but have not provided any details on the content of the rule.

The Justice Department will also issue a proposed 60-day rule, strengthening regulations on pistol stabilizing devices, such as that used by the Boulder, Colo., Shooter in a massacre last month that affected killed 10 people. The rule would designate pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled shotguns, which, under the National Firearms Act, require a federal license to be owned and are subject to a more extensive application process and a tax of $ 200.

The Justice Department will also release a model red flag legislation within 60 days, which the administration says will make it easier for states to pass their own red flag laws. These laws allow individuals to apply to a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person considered to be a danger to themselves or to others.

And it will start providing more data on gun trafficking, starting with a full new report on the matter, which the Biden administration says it has not done in more than two decades.

The president will also announce investments in community violence intervention programs, which aim to reduce gun violence in urban communities, in five federal agencies.

Administration officials have hinted that there may be more to come from the administration on firearms, calling the series of executive actions “initial steps” that were carried out under the responsibility of the government. Garland in the first weeks of his tenure.

The ATF is currently headed by Acting Director Regina Lombardo. Gun control supporters have emphasized the importance of the ATF director in enforcing national gun laws, and Chipman is sure to win praise from them. During his tenure as Senior Policy Advisor at Giffords, he devoted considerable effort to promoting stricter regulation and enforcement of phantom weapons, reforms to the background check system and measures to reduce trafficking. illegal firearms.

Prior to that, Chipman spent 25 years as an agent at the ATF, where he worked to shut down a smuggling ring that was sending illegal guns from Virginia to New York City, and was part of ATF SWAT team. Chipman himself owns a firearm.

He is also an explosives expert and was part of the team involved in the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing and the first World Trade Center bombing. He was also involved in an investigation into a series of bombings against churches in Alabama in the 1990s. He retired from the ATF in 2012.

Chipman and a White House spokesperson both declined to comment.

During his campaign, Biden vowed to prioritize new gun control measures as president, including enacting universal background check legislation, banning online sales firearms and the manufacture and sale of large-capacity assault weapons and magazines. But gun control advocates said that while they were encouraged by signs from the White House that they were taking the issue seriously, they were disappointed by the lack of swift action.

However, with the announcement of the new measures, supporters hailed Biden’s first steps in tackling gun violence.

“Each of these executive actions will begin to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic and deliver on President Biden’s pledge to be the strongest president in human security history. guns, ”said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown Gun Safety.

Feinblatt in particular hailed the move to regulate phantom weapons, which he said “will undoubtedly save countless lives,” and hailed Chipman as an “invaluable resource person” in the fight against gun trafficking. fire. He also said the group looks forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration on further gun control measures, but it’s unclear what next steps the White House, or lawmakers on Capitol Hill, may take. .

Biden himself expressed his uncertainty late last month when asked if he had the political capital to pass new gun control proposals, telling reporters: “I haven’t yet account”.

For years, federal officials have sounded the alarm bells about the increasing black market for homemade, military-style semi-automatic rifles and handguns. Ghost guns are increasingly present at crime scenes, and in recent years they have become more and more common when federal agents purchase firearms as part of undercover operations on gang members. and other criminals.

It’s hard to say how many are on the streets, in part because in many cases law enforcement agencies do not even contact the federal government about firearms because they cannot be traced.

Some states, like California, have passed laws in recent years requiring serial numbers to be stamped on phantom weapons.

The critical component in building a gun that cannot be found is what’s known as the lower receiver, a part usually made of metal or polymer. An unfinished receiver – sometimes referred to as an “80% receiver” – can be legally purchased online without a serial number or other mark, no license required.

A gunman who killed his wife and four others in northern California in 2017 was banned from owning guns, but he built his own to circumvent the court order before he was unleashed. And in 2019, a teenager used a homemade handgun to fatally shoot two classmates and injure three others at a school in suburban Los Angeles.

Plans for Biden’s announcement on Thursday were first reported by Politico.


Associated Press writer Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, contributed reporting.

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