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Brief # 11 Social Justice

President Biden calls for Gun Reform in the U.S.

By Erika Shannon

April 13, 2021

In the wake of several recent mass shootings, there is pressure on President Biden to reform gun laws here in the U.S. With mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado, Texas, and South Carolina recently, many are urging the President to do something before the violence continues to spiral out of control. While some are concerned that President Biden’s reforms will infringe on their Second Amendment rights, Biden alleges that is not the case. A major first step was the President’s nomination of David Chipman to lead the ATF, or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman is a gun owner, a former ATF employee, and  staff member at Giffords, the gun reform organization founded by US Senator Mark Kelly.

On April 8th, Biden also signed three executive orders in efforts to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of criminals. Besides focusing on mass shootings, the President is also hoping to reduce the number of suicides and domestic violence incidents related to firearms.

The first executive order focused on “ghost guns,” which are homemade firearms assembled from parts bought online and do not have traceable serial numbers. The President’s point is that criminals are able to buy kits that allow them to assemble guns in a short period of time, and these guns are often untraceable. Since the kits are not being sold as assembled guns, they are able to bypass the system of background checks required to purchase a firearm in many states. These “ghost guns” can also allegedly be made from mostly plastic parts and 3D printers. If “ghost guns” are found at a crime scene, law enforcement will not be able to trace it due to lack of a serial number. President Biden is having the Department of Justice issue a proposed rule to help impede the sale and use of these types of firearms. While this will likely be met with opposition from Second Amendment activists, it is a good first step in getting unregistered and untraceable weapons off the streets.

The second executive order signed by President Biden had to do with stabilizing braces that can be attached to pistols. Stabilizing braces are accessories for firearms that allow the shooter to fire their weapon with one hand instead of two. While it may not seem like a big deal, it can aid those who wish to kill many people at one time; we saw this with the Boulder shooting suspect, who had a stabilizing brace attached to his Ruger AR-556 pistol. President Biden is hoping to reduce access to stabilizing braces because they have the capability to turn a pistol into a more lethal weapon. If a pistol is going to be able to operate like a rifle, the person purchasing it should be subject to the same hurdles as those who purchase rifles.

The third executive order regarding gun control involves “red flag” laws. Red flag laws allow law enforcement agencies, or family members, to petition state courts to issue an order to temporarily block people from purchasing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. Nineteen states already have red flag laws, and while some gun activists are concerned about the implications of a federal red flag law, that is not what President Biden has proposed with his recent executive order. Rather, he is going to have his administration draw up a model statute “red flag” law that states could adopt if they wish to. There is hope that with the existence of a model statute, it will be easier for states to pass red flag laws if they so choose.

While it is true that the recent actions taken by the President will not fix America’s problems with gun violence, there are still steps being taken in the right direction to foster positive change. Many on the right will see these as feeble attempts and allege that their rights are being violated, but Rome was not built in a day and President Biden has a long road ahead of him before we see any type of real change. These executive orders are not a violation of rights; they are an indication that there is change coming. President Biden is taking actions that he sees fit and letting the rest of his ideas hopefully fall into place over time.

There is a false narrative that the Biden Administration wants to take away peoples guns – this could not be farther from the truth. It is painfully obvious that the U.S. has a gun problem. Guns get into the wrong hands, and they will regardless of who is President. What matters are the actions taken by our leaders  to improve America’s gun violence situation.  Hopefully we will see more gun reform that respects American citizens’ Second Amendment rights while ensuring that firearms do not make it into the wrong hands. Something must be done, and it is time to give gun reform a chance.

ENGAGEMENT  RESOURCES

  • To see the fact sheet from the press conference related to the new executive orders, click here.
  • If you’re interested in how to promote gun safety and reduce gun violence, visit the Prevention Institute webpage on gun violence.
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