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Illustration by Security Management

Biden Announces Limited Executive Actions for Greater Gun Control

On 8 April, U.S. President Joe Biden announced six executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, as well as the nomination of a gun-control advocate to lead the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Calling incidents of gun violence in the country a “public health epidemic,” Biden’s limited actions target homemade guns while supporting red-flag laws and community violence intervention programs.  

Homemade guns, also called ghost guns, are sold in kits and can be put together at home. They lack serial numbers, are legal to assemble at home, and require no background checks. Biden’s actions tighten regulations on these guns, directing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to propose a rule within 30 days. Details on the rule were not issued by Security Management’s press time.  

The Justice Department was also directed to issue a second rule aimed at designating pistols with stabilizing arm braces as short-barreled rifles. Currently, these braces, when paired with shorter barrels, make firearms like AR-15 pistols legal and subject to less regulatory scrutiny than similar short-barrel rifles, according to The Washington Post.  

The gunman in the March shooting in Boulder, Colorado, used a brace, which allowed the pistol to basically operate as a rifle, according to Axios.  

With regards to red-flag legislationwhich allows a judge to deny firearms to persons found to be a threat or danger to themselves or other peoplethe DOJ was ordered to develop templates that would make it easier for states to enact such laws.  

The White House said prior to Biden’s announcement that the actions would not undermine legislation currently making its way through Congress. Two bills, which were passed by the House in March, propose expanding background checks, including private transactions between unlicensed persons. They would also close a loophole where a gun sale can proceed if a background check still has not been completed after three days. The bills have not yet been introduced on the Senate floor, and it is unclear whether they have sufficient support in the chamber.  

Biden’s executive actions, his first against gun violence as president, come in response to calls from gun advocates for greater controls in response to recent shootings in Colorado and Georgia. 

The announcement was further marked by a shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolinathat happened Thursday morning. Thincident left physician, Robert Lesslie, as well as his wife, and two of their grandchildren among the five victims killed, according to The New York Times. The Associated Press is reporting that the gunmen was former NFL player Phillip Adams. Adams was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot Thursday morning. Adams was a patient of Dr. Lesslie, and the AP said it was not "immediately clear" if Adams suffered long-lasting, concussion-related injuries, or what the motive for the attacks might have been.

According to The Hill, the DOJ “is also expected to issue a comprehensive report on firearm trafficking for the first time since 2000.”  

Biden also announced his nomination to the position of director of the ATF, David Chipman. Chipman previously served for 25 years as an agent for the ATF and then as a senior policy adviser for Giffordsan advocacy group promoting stricter gun legislation led by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle GiffordsATF has not had a permanent head since 2015 and is currently led by acting director Regina Lombardo.