Biden considers regulating 'ghost guns,' other executive actions to curb gun violence
The White House is considering a number of gun safety proposals to deliver on President Joe Biden's election promises. However, some activists are upset that after a month in office, the administration has yet to set a firm schedule or provide details of their overarching plan.
According to three people who spoke to the White House about their plans, buyers of so-called ghost weapons - homemade or makeshift firearms without a serial number - are required to conduct background checks.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Who spoke to the White House last week, said he was recommending the government take executive action to close the so-called Charleston loophole, through which a weapon was previously transferred by licensed arms dealers can be a completed background check. But Biden helpers hesitated, said Blumenthal.
Instead, the White House will likely hold on to election promises to support legislation to close the Charleston Gap, as well as measures to keep guns away from anyone believed to be a danger to themselves or others, and around Establish safety standards for firearms. according to one of the people familiar with the plans.
"In my opinion, the greater and braver the prevention of gun violence, the better it is, because we have a unique time window," said Blumenthal.
The desire to get bigger and bolder, however, comes across a myriad of different political realities, including a Senate split down the middle and proponents divided over which policies to move forward and how quickly. Underlining all of this is a promise Biden made to respond quickly to guns once he took office - a promise that seems less likely as the Covid-19 pandemic overshadows everything else.
The White House has held multiple meetings on gun violence, where prominent groups pushed for gun restrictions, community-based groups asked for billions in program funding, and gun violence survivors.
The meetings will be chaired by Susan Rice, Director of the Home Affairs Council and Cedric Richmond, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. During recent meetings, Richmond announced proponents that he had lost a childhood friend to gun violence, according to three people who were in talks with the former congressman.
Protesters attend a March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in Chicago.
A White House official said Biden was considering "every tool at our disposal, including executive action," and intended to invest in community violence programs, requiring background checks, banning offensive weapons and high-capacity magazines, and giving arms manufacturers immunity to be released from liability. However, Biden lacks a Senate-approved attorney general and director of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau, who will play a key role in any executive action against weapons.
"During the campaign, the president put forward an ambitious plan to protect our communities and he remains committed to that agenda," said Mike Gwin, White House spokesman.
Discussions come as arms sales soared in a year of pandemic quarantines, a summer of race riot, and Biden's win in the presidential election after promising an aggressive push to reduce gun violence. There was a record number of gun murders in the United States in 2020.
The work of the White House in Biden for weapons security groups has been praised by the more established organizations. "This administration is three weeks old, but it is the strongest gun safety administration in history, whether it is the president, the vice-president or the cabinet," said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. "We have every confidence that this is how they will rule."
Lawyers affiliated with these groups argue that the chance for action in Congress and elsewhere in the federal government has never been better, in part because and in part because public support for change has steadily increased after Newtown, Connecticut, and subsequent shootings because of the implosion of the once powerful National Rifle Association.
“We changed the state legislation. We passed voter referenda. For the first time in my time in this movement we saw a ... Democratic primary where every single candidate tried to outdo himself by how much he cared about the subject, ”said Christian Hayne, vice president of politics at Brady , a group that supports increased gun restrictions. "We assume that the momentum will continue to grow until we get the change we urgently need."
Biden has a long history of handling gun laws, though his recent endeavors have ended in notable failure. After Newtown, Connecticut, Obama asked him to enforce the biggest gun restrictions he had hoped for in decades. But after months of meetings and limited executive action, a bill that mandated expanded background checks died in the Senate.
The Senate is now even less Democratic, 50-50 split, which means any bill would require at least 10 Republicans to vote with all of the Democrats. And as such, grassroots groups, led by young blacks who survived mass shootings or who live in communities battling daily gun violence, want Biden to use executive power immediately to fill in loopholes for gun sellers.
Some of them are calling on the government to distribute money to 40 cities across the country plagued by gun violence through grants from discretionary agencies or through declaring a national emergency. Rather than waiting for Congress to pass funding for an infrastructure or weapons bill, groups like March For Our Lives and Community Justice Action Fund say agencies can and should now provide funding for community-based programs. They fear that the administration's current approach could take weeks or even months to make progress, and find that such long deadlines contradict Biden's vows to act on his first day in office.
"We have incidents where three or four people are shot [daily] and we don't get the same kind of riot and attention for these kinds of murders and mostly because they're black and brown people," said Eddie Bocanegra , Senior Director of the READI Chicago Chapter of the Progressive Heartland Alliance who spoke with the White House.
Earlier this month, Heartland was part of a coalition of organizations representing color communities that mailed a letter to the Biden administration expressing disappointment that they were not involved in a White House meeting with more established gun control groups. The White House has taken quick action to rectify the situation, and has since made at least two virtual calls to lawyers from groups across the country, according to four people involved in the recent meetings.
Bocanegra said he was happy with the audience he received at the White House. Even so, he expressed frustration that white-run gun control groups appeared to be getting more attention after days of supporting Biden's transition to politics.
"I want to see my return on this investment," he said.
The Covid pandemic is making efforts to take security measures around weapons more difficult - be it through legislation or through action by the executive. Currently, an average of nearly 2,000 Americans die from the virus every day. And while the country's cases and deaths have declined from their January peak, the White House's top priority remains with the coronavirus pandemic and distributing economic relief, including a nearly $ 2 trillion Covid-19 bill going through Congress.
As the White House focuses on the pandemic, lawmakers working on gun control are waiting for signals. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Said he plans to reintroduce his universal background check bill next month, despite wanting to see a plan from the Biden administration first.
"I don't think anyone will push the strategy without hearing from the White House," said Murphy, who plans to speak to Rice this week.
Murphy himself has said he is helping Biden use his executive powers to fight gun control. But if Democrats are to pursue the legislation, "our best chance is getting a background check proposal passed this year. I don't want to wait for a mass shootings."
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