In the wake of the Atlanta shooting that killed eight people, six of them Asian women, President Biden introduced six executive actions to reduce gun violence in the U.S. The actions include investing in community-based violence interventions, pushing for “red flag” legislation, and restricting the proliferation of certain types of guns.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” President Biden said at a press conference this week where he unveiled the new actions, which he referred to as “initial steps my administration is taking to curb this epidemic of gun violence.”
The first of the six new executive actions state that within 30 days the Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to cut down on the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are guns that law enforcement can’t easily trace. The second requires that within 60 days the Justice Department will release a proposed rule to make it clear when a “stabilizing brace” essentially turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, which would be subject to the regulations of the National Firearms Act.
Additionally, according to the executive actions, within 60 days, the Justice Department needs to publish a model of “red flag” legislation that states can adopt. These laws allow family members or law enforcement to temporarily prevent people in crisis (through a court order) from accessing a firearm if they may be a danger to themselves or others.
Other executive actions will invest in community-based interventions for violence (including a $5 billion investment through the president’s American Jobs Plan), call for the Justice Department to begin releasing comprehensive annual reports on gun trafficking, and nominate a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for the first time since 2015.
Advocacy groups were pleased to see the new actions—as well as Biden’s discretionary funding request, which would allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for community-based violence interventions, gun-violence research, improved background-check systems, and more. “President Biden took a historic, crucial step with today’s executive actions,” Everytown said on Twitter.
“[President Biden] ran on the strongest gun safety platform in U.S. history and was elected with record turnout. We were proud to support his campaign and applaud his new executive orders on gun safety,” Giffords, the organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords to combat gun violence, said on Twitter.
“The executive actions the president unveiled today signal important steps forward to address the epidemic of gun violence, and that the time for waiting is over,” Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), said in a statement. “Too many Americans have felt the horrific effects of American gun violence, and are united at record levels demanding action to prevent further gun violence.”
“But these actions taken today, while extremely important in this fight, are just the opening salvo of this administration’s efforts to address the gun-violence epidemic and build a safer, and more equitable United States of America,” said Dakota Jablon, CSGV’s federal affairs manager. “In addition to these actions, Congress should make it a priority to pass the American Jobs Plan, which includes a historic $5 billion investment in evidence-based community-focused violence interruption programs that will reduce gun homicides in impacted communities.”
Ultimately, it will take a lot of far-reaching actions to eliminate an issue as big and complex as gun violence. But these new executive actions mark a major step forward.
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