President Biden is set to announce his first major action on gun control Thursday, issuing a series of executive actions to crack down on “ghost” guns and firearm stabilizing braces and nominating an adviser at the gun-control group Giffords to become director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mr. Biden will order the Justice Department to issue a proposed rule within 30 days to help stop the proliferation of ghost guns, which are homemade and can’t be traced, senior administration officials said Wednesday. The action is expected to be a step toward classifying ghost guns as firearms, making them subject to background checks.
The president also will direct the Justice Department to develop a rule within 60 days to classify pistols outfitted with stabilizing braces to be subject to tougher federal regulations. A gunman used such a firearm in last month’s mass shooting at a Colorado supermarket. The ATF late last year pulled a proposed regulation on stabilizing braces amid Republican opposition.
Officials said Mr. Biden also will announce his intention to nominate David Chipman, a former ATF agent, as director of the bureau that enforces the nation’s gun laws. He has worked as an adviser at the gun-control group Giffords, named for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in 2011.
If confirmed, Mr. Chipman would be the agency’s first permanent director since 2015. The ATF is currently run by acting Director Regina Lombardo.
A senior administration official described Mr. Biden’s executive actions as “an initial set” of proposals on gun violence, indicating more will follow.
The president’s announcements won’t include proposals for any legislation in Congress. Senior administration officials said Mr. Biden still intends to urge lawmakers to approve universal background checks and other measures to try to reduce gun violence.
The president is somewhat limited in the extent of gun measures he can take through executive action. Any gun legislation would encounter stiff GOP opposition in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said on Twitter of the president’s anticipated action, “President Biden wants to let violent criminals go free but take guns from law-abiding citizens.”
Democratic lawmakers are pressing Mr. Biden to take action on assault-style firearms, pressure that is rising in the wake of several high-profile mass shootings in recent weeks. Gun-control groups met recently with White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and presidential adviser Cedric Richmond.
After a mass shooting at a grocery store in Colorado last month, Mr. Biden said, “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future.”
The president will be joined at the event in the White House by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
In another step to be announced by Mr. Biden, the Justice Department will publish model “red flag” legislation that could help states adopt such measures. The legislation allows police or families to petition a state court to temporarily remove firearms from people who are deemed an imminent danger to themselves or to others.
Mr. Biden also will direct the Justice Department to issue a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking, which senior officials said has not been done since 2000.
ATF has said more than 30% of the illegal weapons confiscated in California last year had no serial numbers and were untraceable. The attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia in December supported a federal lawsuit with other states seeking to have ATF regulate the sale of parts of the homemade ghost guns as firearms to curb their increasing use.
Senior administration officials also said Mr. Biden will take steps to redirect more federal money toward community-violence intervention programs at five federal agencies.
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