Biden announces gun control executive actions including regulating ‘ghost guns’

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Biden administration unveiled a series of executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence Wednesday which including a new rule combatting “ghost guns” and publishing “red flag” legislation for states to adopt.

He also announced David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, as his nominee to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If confirmed, Chipman would be the agency’s first permanent director since 2015.

Biden detailed a total of six new actions, many of which utilize the Justice Department, that aim to increase federal community violence intervention and close some federal gun loopholes.

According to senior administration officials, Biden is expected to sign the actions Thursday.

Biden has faced increasing pressure to act on gun control after a string of mass shootings across the U.S. in recent weeks, but the White House has repeatedly emphasized the need for legislative action on guns.

While the House passed a background-check bill last month, gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly-divided Senate, where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals.

Biden announced tighter regulations around so-called “ghost guns”. The homemade firearms — often assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine — often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.

He also announced a new rule to make clear that a stabilizing brace can turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle which is regulated under the National Firearms Act. The shooter in the Boulder Supermarket shooting used a pistol with the arm brace which can make a firearm more accurate.

The Biden administration also will direct the Justice Department to publish model “red flag” legislation that can be adapted by states. A national “red flag” law has been debated for years but has not passed Congress.

During his campaign, Biden promised to prioritize new gun control measures as president, including enacting universal background check legislation, banning online sales of firearms and the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Biden himself expressed uncertainty late last month when asked if he had the political capital to pass new gun control proposals, telling reporters, “I haven’t done any counting yet.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last month, however, that executive actions on guns were coming as well, calling them “one of the levers that we can use” to address gun violence.

As a part of Biden’s executive actions, he will have the AFT and Justice Department issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. The last report was issued in 2000 and does not account for things like “ghost guns” according to the Biden administration.

Some states, like California, have enacted laws in recent years to require serial numbers be stamped on ghost guns.

The critical component in building an untraceable gun is what is known as the lower receiver, a part typically made of metal or polymer. An unfinished receiver — sometimes referred to as an “80-percent receiver” — can be legally bought online with no serial numbers or other markings on it, no license required.

A gunman who killed his wife and four others in Northern California in 2017 who had been prohibited from owning firearms built his own to skirt the court order before his rampage. And in 2019, a teenager used a homemade handgun to fatally shoot two classmates and wound three others at a school in suburban Los Angeles.

To counteract community violence, the Biden administration will work with five federal agencies to make changes that curtail force. He also highlighted that the American Jobs Plan will include a $5 billion investment over eight years in community violence intervention programs.

The ATF is currently run by Acting Director Regina Lombardo. Gun-control advocates have emphasized the significance of the ATF director in enforcing the nation’s gun laws, and Chipman is certain to win praise from them. During his time as a senior policy adviser with Giffords, he spent considerable effort pushing for greater regulation and enforcement on “ghost guns,” reforms of the background check system and measures to reduce the trafficking of illegal firearms.

Prior to that, Chipman spent 25 years as an agent at the ATF, where he worked on stopping a trafficking ring that sent illegal firearms from Virginia to New York, and served on the ATF’s SWAT team. Chipman is a gun owner himself.

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