President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on gun violence prevention at White House.

WASHINGTON — After several mass shootings on his watch, President Joe Biden has announced his administration’s first steps toward greater gun regulation, declaring that “progress, even on this most difficult of issues, is possible.”

The executive actions are limited — many of the goals advocated by gun safety groups would require new legislation from Congress, which remains stalemated on gun issues. But Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland portrayed the moves as a significant first step.

“Solutions exist,” Harris said in introducing Biden at a White House event Thursday. “People on both sides of the aisle want action … all that is left is the will and the courage to act.”

“Enough, enough, enough,” Biden declared, noting that more than 100 Americans on average die from shootings each day. “This is an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it has to stop.”

Here’s what’s in the plan:

Ghost guns

The action with the greatest potential to limit the number of new guns in circulation is a proposal to require background checks for so-called ghost guns.

The label refers to do-it-yourself kits, widely sold, which allow a purchaser to manufacture a functioning weapon at home using readily accessible tools. Because existing rules don’t consider such kits to fall within the definition of “firearms” under federal law, they are not required to have a serial number, unlike completed guns. That means they can’t be traced by law enforcement agencies, which is why they’re called ghosts. For the same reason, purchasers don’t need to go through a background check to buy one.

Such kits were relatively rare a decade ago but have become much more available. Law enforcement officials in California and other states say they are increasingly finding such untraceable weapons at crime scenes. Under California law, starting in 2024, all such gun parts will have to be sold through a licensed gun dealer and would require a state background check.

A report last year by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety found 80 active sellers online, most of which started in business since 2014. The report found at least one seller in 26 states. In California, the report identified 18 sellers.

The kits are often marketed as allowing a purchaser to produce a weapon in as little as two hours. In some cases, the gun parts are sold along with the drill bits and other tools needed to complete the work.

“This issue of ghost guns makes just about every law that we pass null and void,” said Rep. Lou Correa, a California Democrat who attended Thursday’s Rose Garden ceremony. As gun kits become more prevalent, criminals can effectively bypass existing laws requiring background checks, he said.

Biden’s plan directs the Justice Department to come up with a new rule that defines the kits as firearms under federal law. That would require purchasers to go through a background check.

The rule would have to go through the standard public comment process before it could become final. Once it does, sellers of gun kits likely would challenge the rule in court, arguing that current law can’t be stretched to cover their products.

The test under federal law is whether a gun part “may be readily converted” to use in a functioning weapon. Starting in the mid-2000s, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began issuing letters to marketers of many kits saying that the gun parts they sold did not meet that legal test and were not regulated as firearms.

Violence prevention

The number of shootings has risen sharply in many major cities around the county in the past year, as Biden acknowledged.

The causes of that increase have been hotly debated. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic disruptions and school closures it caused, may be one factor. Another factor in some cities may be changes in law enforcement since the mass protests last summer after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some of the increase may simply be random fluctuation.

Whatever the cause, the increase in gun violence poses a challenge for the Biden administration. Keeping American cities safe is a political imperative for Democrats, who are an urban-based party. At the same time, Biden’s administration is committed to reducing the number of people in prison and not returning to the tough-on-crime posture of the 1990s.

“Gun violence is not a problem that law enforcement alone can solve,” Garland said.

That’s led to increased administration support for what the government calls community violence intervention programs.

Such programs begin with a basic fact that also undergirds a lot of urban crime-fighting strategies: “a relatively small number of people are involved in urban gun violence, whether as perpetrators or victims,” and the violence is concentrated in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of poverty, as a White House fact sheet put it.

Policing strategies try to identify that small number of people and keep them under law-enforcement scrutiny, which has led to accusations of racial profiling and police harassment. Violence prevention programs aim to resolve disputes before they turn violent, connect people at high risk for violence with job openings or training and take other steps, such as working with shooting victims while they’re in hospitals to head off retaliatory cycles.

Administration officials say those strategies have shown promising results where they have been tried, but the programs have been chronically under-funded. The administration aims to reverse that by investing $5 billion over the next eight years as part of Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“For a fraction of the cost of gun violence, we can save lives,” Biden said, noting that gun violence costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year in hospital bills, lost productivity and prison costs.

While Congress works through that plan, Biden hopes to provide money from existing programs. He’s directing some two dozen federal agencies to examine their programs to see which could be used to support violence-prevention efforts.

‘Red flag’ laws

In recent years, 19 states, including California, have passed “red flag” laws. Those statutes allow family members or law enforcement agencies to go to court to get an order temporarily taking guns away from someone who is suffering from mental problems or other issues that would make them a danger to themselves or others.

Biden is not proposing a federal red flag law, although the White House says he would support one. Instead, his administration will propose a model statute that states could adopt. Backers hope that the existence of a model will make it easier for states to pass such measures, which has been true in a wide range of other areas of law.

Stabilizing braces

The gunman who shot and killed 10 people last month in Boulder, Colorado, used a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace. Such a brace effectively transforms a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, making it more accurate while still allowing it to be more easily concealed.

Short-barreled rifles have been subject to strict regulation for years, including a $200 tax and federal registration. Biden’s plan directs the Justice Department to come up with a new rule within 60 days that would make such stabilizing devices subject to similar restrictions.

Weapons trafficking

Biden will direct the ATF, the government’s main agency that regulates gun sales, to produce an annual report on trafficking of firearms. ATF produced such a report in 2000, but trafficking patterns have changed significantly since then, and the report hasn’t been comprehensively updated, White House officials say.

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(13) comments

IcePick

The majority of voters/people with common sense want to enforce the existing laws

BigBob

A majority of voters support stricter gun laws in the U.S., a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds.

Fifty-seven percent of registered voters in the March 24-26 survey said there should be more laws regulating guns in the country.

NorthLong

57% is a long ways from the 80% you previously stated.

Tell me BB, what law would absolutely prevent those that want to harm people from getting one. Do you really believe that unlawful people are going to obey any law regarding gun ownership.

BigBob

Not seen in THN-

TWICE IMPEACHED CON-MAN BILKS THOUSANDS OF SUPPORTERS OUT OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the former sleaze bilked millions of people out of millions of dollars sending credit card companies into a tailspin processing thousands of refunds totaling more than $122 million dollars, the National Republican Congressional Committee has come out with the same kind of scam with a new twist. They have a pre-checked box that allows them to rip-off donors time and time again when the donor was only going to make a one-time donation. And the NRCC is threatening to “tell” the moron about you with this message inside their pre-checked box, "UNCHECK this box, and we'll have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems."

These morons don’t seem to understand that if you piss-of your donors they will not vote for you. But then again, the Former Guy defended the activity by claiming, “"In fact, many people were so enthusiastic that they gave over and over, and in certain cases where they would give too much, we would promptly refund their contributions. Our overall dispute rate was less than 1% of total online donations, a very low number." Of course, that is a bald-faced lie, but consider the source. The problem is not that "enthusiastic" supporters of the idiot voluntarily "gave over and over." Rather, the problem is that his donors involuntarily "gave over and over" because his campaign was running a scam, relying on pre-checked boxes and opaque disclaimers that were designed to be overlooked by unsuspecting contributors. If these supporters wanted to give "over and over," the Republican operation wouldn't have found it necessary to rely on tricks and underhanded gimmicks to exploit these donors.

Just when you think we’re done with this idiot he comes up with another disgusting ploy to line his pockets. For all of the supporters of the twice impeached, lying crook here in LHC you better check your credit card statements before he wipes you out.

BigBob

Not seen in THN-

TWICE IMPEACHED CON-MAN BILKS THOUSANDS OF SUPPORTERS OUT OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the former sleaze bilked millions of people out of millions of dollars sending credit card companies into a tailspin processing thousands of refunds totaling more than $122 million dollars, the National Republican Congressional Committee has come out with the same kind of scam with a new twist. They have a pre-checked box that allows them to rip-off donors time and time again when the donor was only going to make a one-time donation. And the NRCC is threatening to “tell” the moron about you with this message inside their pre-checked box, "UNCHECK this box, and we'll have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems."

These morons don’t seem to understand that if you piss-of your donors they will not vote for you. But then again, the Former Guy defended the activity by claiming, “"In fact, many people were so enthusiastic that they gave over and over, and in certain cases where they would give too much, we would promptly refund their contributions. Our overall dispute rate was less than 1% of total online donations, a very low number." Of course, that is a bald-faced lie, but consider the source. The problem is not that "enthusiastic" supporters of the idiot voluntarily "gave over and over." Rather, the problem is that his donors involuntarily "gave over and over" because his campaign was running a scam, relying on pre-checked boxes and opaque disclaimers that were designed to be overlooked by unsuspecting contributors. If these supporters wanted to give "over and over," the Republican operation wouldn't have found it necessary to rely on tricks and underhanded gimmicks to exploit these donors.

Just when you think we’re done with this idiot he comes up with another disgusting ploy to line his pockets. For all of the supporters of the twice impeached, lying crook here in LHC you better check your credit card statements before he wipes you out.

NorthLong

Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.

You are post crap that has no truth to it.

NorthLong

Thank you for deleting these hateful posts from you know who. More of this still needs to be done along with the repeated C&P's we see every day.

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ST

“Republicans revel in shootings of American men, women’s and children?” What would cause you to make such a statement? No one, on either side of the aisle, would agree with what you’ve just said. You’re disgusting.

tomgarven

Here are a couple of good links to the many causes of gun violence. The first talks about violent persons and their political affiliations. What I find interesting is that there is probably no statistical significance to being either a Democrat or Republican. Mass shootings have been performed by members of both parties.

www.politifact.com/factchecks/2018/feb/23/claudia-tenney/do-many-mass-shooters-end-being-democrats-rep-tenn/

The second link provides an overview of gun violence and the role many different aspects of life play. It appears that MEN are the primary perpetrators of gun violence for lots of different reasons. It should be noted however that MOST gun violence is performed by individuals who are unstable, have workplace disagreements or conflicts in their personal relationships. And yes we are living in a society which could use a lot of mental health help but we spend almost nothing on treating the mentally ill amongst us.

projects.voanews.com/mass-shootings/

And the last link is one I almost always post when this topic comes up. It is a report by Frontline on how we ended up with 800,000+ mentally ill patients living amongst us. Maybe we should take a few of those billions we send overseas and spend them right here in the U.S. for the treatment of people with mental health conditions who need it.

I don't believe our government and the people we elect have a clue to the real cause of gun violence in the U.S.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums/special/excerpt.html

NorthLong

Another good post with facts instead of fiction. I agree that the people making the laws haven't a clue as to the cause of gun violence. More so called gun control laws are going to do nothing to curb the violence. Seems to be that politicians think new laws will fix everything.

tomgarven

Totally agree NorthLong. If it were that simple to change human behavior we would have done it long ago.

matthewtratz

Sometimes you make intelligent and honest observations then other times I see you write things that you have to know are lies. If you don’t know their untrue then you really need to read more deeply and if you do know their untrue then you willfully lie. If you’re going to claim a hard stat like 80% of Americans want gun control, give us your source. You really think so low of your fellow Americans that they revel in gun violence? Don’t make up things. It makes you sound stupid. Statistics don’t prove anything. 3 out of every 4 Americans know that. Do better Big Bob. We can all make up stats.

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Yup

80% DO NOT WANT GUN CONTROL YOU LIBERAL MORON!

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