President Biden’s new gun control actions have caused a polarizing response in some states.
On April 8, President Biden announced six initial actions on gun reform coming on the heels of two recent mass shootings in Boulder, Colo., taking the lives of 10, and Atlanta, which killed eight.
The first of these actions was a direction to the Justice Department proposing a rule to slow down the rapid spread of “ghost guns.” These guns can be purchased as a kit and built at home. “Ghost guns” are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that the purchased parts come without federal background checks, and there are no serial numbers on the gun, making it untraceable.
In the United States, the current law is that building a gun from home is legal as long as the owner doesn’t attempt to give away or sell the gun. According to The New York Times, ghost guns are not disproportionately linked to mass shootings, but their numbers are quickly growing in cities.
The second action Biden calls for is that the Justice Department issues a rule that requires a clear indication if a stabilizing brace can turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle. If so, pistols with the stabilizing brace would be subject to the requirements of rifles in the National Firearms Act. This comes in response to the shooting in Boulder, Colo., as a pistol with an arm brace for stabilization was possibly used by the shooter.
Third, the Justice Department will publish “red flag” legislation for states to model after and adopt. These laws allow either police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of a firearm from an individual who may present danger to others or themselves.
Nineteen states already have “red flag” laws in place. Biden also encouraged Congress to pass a national ”red flag” law.
Fourth, the Biden administration is putting funding into various programs for community violence intervention.
This most notably includes the American Jobs Plan, which puts money into training at-risk individuals for jobs. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services will implement hospital-based violence interventions, helping those who are victims of gun violence and attempting to bar further violence. Finally, this includes funding for various grants to organizations that conduct studies on gun violence or that prevent gun violence in youth.
Fifth, the Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms tracking from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). The last time ATF issued this report was in the year 2000.
Finally, Biden will nominate David Chipman to serve as the director of ATF, as the Bureau hasn’t had a director since 2015. Chipman has worked for ATF for 25 years.
Many Republican-controlled states did not receive Biden’s propositions well.
Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, signed a bill a week before Biden’s announcement that would ban local government and employees from enforcing any infringement on gun rights imposed by the federal government.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted after Biden’s announcement that Texas would follow in Arizona’s footsteps.“This is what I’m seeking for Texas—a law to defy any new federal gun control laws. It will make Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. Legislation is moving in the Texas House and Senate. I look forward to signing it,” he wrote.
Additionally, Ohio Representative Mike Loychick has plans to introduce the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act for his state of Ohio.
Activists in Parkland, Fla., many of which parents of victims in the shooting at a Parkland high school in 2018, applauded Biden’s plan. They echoed what many Democratic politicians had to say about the necessity for further Congressional action.
“One of the ways to stop these attacks is to give law enforcement the tools they need, and red flag or extreme risk protection laws are that tool, so we ask Congress now, please pass the bill nationally,” said Tony Montalto, co-founder of the group Stand With Parkland.
The House passed a pair of bills that expanded background checks for purchasing firearms on March 11 this year, but it is unlikely these will pass in the Senate. The bills would need 60 votes to pass, and the Senate is currently split 50/50 with Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats followed Biden’s lead by proposing gun control legislation in the House and Senate a week later, hoping to ban firearm magazines with over 10 rounds. This will not be the last of gun control bill in Congress as Biden’s suggestion for a national “red flag” law will not be ignored. Red states have been working to get rid of various forms of gun control this year and will surely oppose this new legislation.