U.S. & World News

Biden announces gun reform plan

Ghost guns, red flag laws and pistol-stabilizing braces cause federal concern

by erin albright, staff writer
Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.com
The Biden administration seeks to monitor and limit the sales of gun kits, which can provide a loophole around the federal gun registration process

President Joe Biden announced extensive plans to begin executive action on gun reform last Thursday. The announcement came the same day of  a mass shooting that killed five people in South Carolina.

Gun violence was a central issue of Biden’s presidential campaign, an issue he called an “international embarrassment” and “public health crisis.” The United States averages one mass shooting per day, as well as averages 120 guns per 100 people. The proposed action includes legislation to stop the sale of “ghost guns.” These weapons are handmade firearms sold in kits or 3D-printed and come without a serial number, allowing the government no ability to trace them.

Biden’s efforts come after helping enact 23 executive actions to combat gun violence while working under the Obama administration.

The president explained that he wanted to incorporate “common sense” steps, including mandating serial numbers be stamped on each part of the gun, as well as subjecting buyers to background checks. 

Currently, it is legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop, and there is no federal requirement for a background check. It is Biden’s hope that the kits will be treated as firearms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) estimates that about 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in 2019.

“Ghost guns are disproportionately impacting gun violence in communities of color and undermining the states with strong gun laws,” Christian Heyne, Vice President of Policy at Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said. 

In addition to tighter rules on ghost guns, Biden has asked the Justice Department to draw up legislation to assist states in implementing “red flag” laws. These laws would allow courts to bar people from carrying guns if they are shown by family members or law enforcement to present a danger to themselves or others. 

New regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces will likely also be put in place. These stabilizers have the ability to turn a pistol into a more accurate and deadlier weapon than simply a handgun. Buyers will be required to go through a far more thorough application process.

The proposed actions directly address the most recent shootings, most specifically the Boulder, Colorado shooting. The mass shooting left 10 people dead and the shooter had used a pistol-stabilizing brace. 

The proposed action will not affect the sale of assault weapons or close loopholes that allow buyers to escape background checks online or at gun shows, despite Giffords Law Center stating that a fifth of all guns sold to buyers don’t require a background check.

“Whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all of the resources at my disposal as President of the United States to protect Americans from gun violence,” Biden said.

Partisan response from politicians has been strong. Biden opposers on social media even quickly compared his efforts to those of former dictators, including Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong. 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee immediately responded to Biden’s proposal with his own. A bill was quickly signed in the state allowing nearly all adults to openly or concealed-carry handguns. 

Ted Harvey, a Fox News contributor, felt his second amendment rights were being ignored, and said Americans should be “appalled” by the Administration’s “utter disregard” of Constitutional rights.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) endorsed Biden’s plans, also referring to the steps being taken as “common sense” actions. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that the state plans to pass a law defying any new federal gun control laws, making Texas a “second amendment sanctuary state.”

Biden said he is “determined to make change” in his final comments after announcing the executive action.

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