President Joe Biden delivers remarks on gun violence prevention during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on Thursday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
April 8 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden unveiled several executive actions on Thursday aimed at curbing gun violence, including measures on unregistered firearms that can be assembled from parts, commonly referred to as "ghost guns."
The new directives come in the aftermath of mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., that killed 18 people.
"Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and an international embarrassment," Biden said Thursday in announcing the measures in the White House Rose Garden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Biden called gun violence in the United States a "public health crisis," an "epidemic" and an "international embarrassment."
The president said none of the measures he is proposing would affect the Second Amendment, and called constitution-based criticisms of gun control measures "phony arguments."
In his remarks, Biden urged Congress to revive a ban on assault weapons and large capacity gun magazines.
"This is not a partisan issue among the American people," Biden said. "And I'm willing to work with anyone to get these done. And it's long past time that we act."
The president added that an exemption that shields gun manufacturers from being sued also should be removed.
"If I get one thing on my list ... give me that one," he said.
"We've got a long way to go. It seems like we've always got a long way to go."
Families who lost children or friends to gun violence attended the Rose Garden event, including shootings at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and a high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018. Gun control advocate and former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011, also attended.
Biden also urged the Senate to immediately pass three bills already adopted by the House to close gun loopholes, including an expansion of universal background checks.
"Enough prayers. Time for some action," he said.
In one order, Biden asks the Justice Department to issue a rule within 30 days to tamp down on the proliferation of "ghost guns," which often don't have a serial number and can't be traced by law enforcement.
"We are experiencing a growing problem: Criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes," the White House said in a statement.
Another directive asks the department to develop "red flag" laws that states can adopt. Such measures would allow family members to petition courts to take firearms from people who are deemed a threat. Several states already have red flag laws, including Colorado.
At Thursday's event, Biden nominated David Chipman to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Chipman is a former federal agent, gun control advocate and adviser for the gun control advocacy group named for Giffords.
Other measures unveiled Thursday include:
- The Justice Department, within 60 days, must clarify regulations to ensure that pistols fitted with stabilizing braces, which essentially transform them into rifles, will be regulated under the National Firearms Act. These pistols do not fall under U.S. gun laws that regulate rifles. The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.
- Directives for various agencies to provide more resources to community violence prevention measures. The White House said community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration.
- Health and Human Services Department webinar and toolkit to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs. The American Jobs Plan proposes a $5 billion investment over eight years to support community violence intervention programs.
- A Justice Department report on firearms trafficking and annual updates to give lawmakers information to help address firearms trafficking. In 2000, the ATF issued a report on its investigations into firearms trafficking, which is one way firearms are diverted into the illegal market where they can end up in the hands of dangerous individuals.