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First 100: Biden announces executive actions on gun control

The orders and legislative proposals include restrictions on “ghost guns” and the appointment of a new director to the ATF

April 11, 2021

President Biden announced on Thursday his first steps on gun control, which included tighter restrictions on “ghost guns” and pistol braces meant to make the weapon more accurate. 

The actions come in response to a month that has experienced two mass shootings — one in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, along with another shooting this past week in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

President Biden’s actions would direct the Department of Justice to come up with a rule in the next 30 days to place tighter restrictions on ghost guns — handmade firearms that do not contain serial numbers. The assembly of these firearms can be made through the use of kits and parts purchased online. Backgrounds checks are also not required when purchasing these kits. The use of ghost guns in crimes has increased with 40% of firearms seized in Los Angeles being the handmade guns.

The DOJ is expected in the next two months to introduce new rules to restrict the sale of pistol stabilizing braces. The ruling would classify the braces as a short-barreled rifle that comes with more tighter background checks under the National Firearms Act. A “red flag law” is also being introduced by the Justice Department to allow states to enact their own gun legislation and allow courts or law enforcement to remove weapons from people deemed a risk to their community. 

Additionally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives received a new nominee to lead the federal agency, after Biden picked gun control advocate. David Chipman, a 25-year veteran of ATF, has been a strong advocate for gun control in the past few years, currently working as senior policy advisor for gun control organization Giffords. The confirmation of Chipman would make him the first permanent director for ATF since 2015 after previous director’s Byron Todd Jones retirement.

In a press release, Giffords praised the actions of President Biden with founder, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords sharing in a statement.

“Days like today are why we fought so hard to bring a gun safety champion to the White House,” she wrote. “These executive actions help address a crisis that devastates communities across the country on a daily basis. Today we have hope that a brighter future is in store. Thank you, President Biden.”

Other key figures are praising the actions of President Biden as well such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who praised the nomination of Chipman as “well qualified.”

The actions of President Biden are not without detractors with gun rights organizations and advocates, expected to mount legal opposition on any measure meant to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. The NRA tweeted criticism of the nomination of Chipman, citing conflict of interest with Chipman’s role in Giffords and junior Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly’s marriage to founder Gabrielle.

The president urged Congress after unveiling his actions to continue with introducing legislation for stricter background checks along with other gun control measures. In a statement, the president offered the following: “They can do it right now. They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they have passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence.”

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