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Justice Dept. proposes rule change, guidance to reduce gun violence in U.S.

The department also unveiled model legislation for states to fashion red flag laws to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
The department also unveiled model legislation for states to fashion red flag laws to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

June 7 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has proposed a rule to restrict accessories that turn pistols into rifles and legislation for states to adopt new "red flag" laws to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous owners.

The department's rule change proposal seeks to clarify and heighten regulations for pistols that are converted with accessories into short-barreled rifles that are "dangerous and easily concealable weapons."

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The proposal says that restrictions on short-barreled rifles also apply to pistols equipped with stabilizing braces that enable the weapon to be fired from the shoulder.

The department argued that converted weapons are more likely to be used to commit crimes, as manufacturers are able to sell such accessories without background checks or registration requirements.

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"These requirements are important public safety measures because they regulate the transfer of these dangerous weapons and help ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands," the Justice Department said in a statement Monday.

"The proposed rule would clarify when these attached accessories convert pistols into weapons covered by these heightened regulations."

The department also unveiled model legislation for states to fashion "extreme risk protection order," or red flag, laws to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

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The proposal authorizes courts to temporarily prevent dangerous owners from accessing firearms and allows family members or police to step in "before warning signs turn into tragedy."

"The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities," Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

"We continue to deliver on our promise to help save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americas."

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Monday's announcement came exactly a month after the department proposed a rule to close the "ghost gun" loophole to ensure serial numbers are printed on frames and receivers in firearms kits.

There have been dozens of deadly shootings in the United States in recent months as governments have eased coronavirus restrictions. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more than 250 mass shootings during the first 158 days of 2021.

The shootings prompted President Joe Biden in April to sign executive actions to address the "gun violence public health epidemic." Among changes in Biden's orders include some sought by the Justice Department for ghost guns, red flag laws and pistols converted into compact rifles.

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