President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced an executive order aimed at curbing the kind of mass gun violence the nation has experienced during the first few months of the year. On Tuesday, Biden visited Monterey Park, Calif., where he announced his initiative to require expanded background checks for all firearm purchases. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
March 14 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced an executive order aimed at curbing the kind of mass gun violence the nation has experienced during the first few months of the year.
The president discussed the executive order in more detail in Monterey Park, Calif., a community mourning the 11 people killed and nine others injured by a gunman who opened fire at a dance studio during Lunar New Year festivities on Jan. 21.
"A day of festivity and light turned into a day of fear and darkness," Biden said. "A holiday of hope and possibilities marked by horror and pain. Vibrant dances and music replaced by vigils and memorials. Eleven souls taken. Nine injured. Private mourning made public."
Biden shared anecdotes about each of the victims, describing who they were to their families, friends and community. He then recalled the shooting on Half Moon Bay days later, last year's shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde and the shooting at a spa in Atlanta two years ago.
"We also hear a message we've heard too often. Enough. Do something," he said. "We remember and mourn today, but I am here with you today to act."
In June, Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which has been described as the most significant bill directed at curbing gun violence to be enacted in three decades. Tuesday's executive order adds measures to be taken, including a requirement for businesses that sell firearms to become federally licensed to increase compliance with background checks.
The executive order also increases scrutiny for federally licensed firearm dealers who have had violations or had their licenses revoked. Biden said Attorney General Merrick Garland is directed to take "every lawful action possible" to move closer to universal background checks without new legislation.
"I just -- it's just common sense to check whether someone is a felon, a domestic abuser, before they buy a gun," Biden said.
Federal departments, such as Homeland Security and the Department of Education, will be required to submit plans to better help communities and victims affected by gun violence receive mental-health services.
It also includes measures that will increase the effectiveness of extreme risk protection orders, or so-called red flag laws, strengthen efforts to hold the gun industry accountable for incidents, and ramp up the ability of law enforcement to identify and apprehend shooters.
The Federal Trade Commission will be encouraged to produce a public report on how gun manufacturers market firearms, particularly to minors.
"It's the only outfit you can't sue these days," Biden said of the gun industry.
The president said he still has his eyes on banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"I led that fight in -- to ban them in 1994. In the 10 years that law was in place, mass shootings went down," Biden said. "Our Republicans friends let it expire, and it -- and 10 years later, and mass shootings tripled since then. Tripled. So let's finish the job. Ban assault weapons. Ban them again. Do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big."
Vice President Kamala Harris, a former senator from California, visited the city of some 60,000 people near Los Angeles days after the shooting and called on Congress to pass "reasonable gun safety laws."
"Can they do something? Yes," she said. "Should they do something? Yes. Will they do something? That is where we all must speak up, and speak to our elected representatives about what we have a right to expect that they will do in the interest of the safety, the security and the well-being of people like those whose lives were ended here and people around the country."
Biden has repeatedly called for gun law reform and campaigned on ushering in such measures, including regulating possession of existing assault weapons and closing loopholes in the federal background check system.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 85 mass shootings so far this year, including 17 in the first two weeks of March.