Updated Apr 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to unveil executive actions on guns

President Biden speaks behind podium
President Biden. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to present a series of executive actions on guns Thursday, including directing his Justice Department to tighten regulations on purchases of so-called “ghost guns."

Why it matters: The president has faced increased pressure from Democrats and gun violence prevention groups to act on the issue following a series of recent high-profile gun tragedies across the U.S.

Details: Biden is using the bully pulpit to issue a number of actions at the executive level while urging Congress to do its part to enact more permanent legislation, which could prove difficult given the split Senate.

  • In what a senior administration official called an “initial” set of actions, the Department of Justice will introduce rules meant to minimize the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are untraceable firearms assembled from kits.
  • The DOJ will issue a proposed rule within 60 days that would subject any pistol outfitted with a stabilizing brace to the requirement of the National Firearms Act. Such a brace, used by the shooter in March at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., could make a pistol essentially function as a rifle.
  • The DOJ will publish “red flag” legislations for states to model on the local level and will also file a report on firearms trafficking for the first time since 2000.
  • Biden will also announce on Thursday that the administration is investing in evidence-based community violence intervention. The president has proposed a $5 billion investment in such intervention as part of his initial infrastructure proposal.
  • Biden will also nominate a gun control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

What they’re saying: Gun violence prevention advocacy groups are praising the executive actions while indicating there is still room for more action, such as providing more directives to agencies besides the DOJ, like HHS, that also work on the issue.

  • Groups are also calling for a broad, unified national strategy from the White House as well as the appointment of a director specifically focused on gun violence issues.
  • “We've been asking for a long time for them to prioritize this issue, and it's clear that they're going to start doing that,” Max Markham, policy director for March for Our Lives, told Axios.
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