President Biden’s latest executive order pushes for stricter regulations in the fight for gun control, a move applauded by gun violence survivors.
The president announced this executive order during a speech Tuesday in Monterey Park, California, a community unfortunately all too familiar with gun violence. In January, 20 people were shot following a Lunar New Year Celebration. Eleven people were killed.
“This executive order helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearms sales,” said Biden during his speech. “In the meantime, my executive order directs my attorney general to take every lawful action possible to move us as close as we can to universal background checks without new legislation.”
Biden’s order aims to increase the number of background checks to purchase guns, requiring a more secure way of firearms storage, and ensuring U.S. law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of a bipartisan gun control law enacted last year.
Known as the Safer Communities Act, the legislation was viewed as a good start to implement gun control measures, but activists feel that it isn’t enough.
The Act provides new tools for communities to combat gun violence, enhanced gun background checks for individuals under the age of 21, funding for crisis interventions and extreme risk protections and increased mental health services to help children affected by gun violence heal from grief and trauma.
After the Act was passed, 11 more mass shootings occurred according to a database of mass killings since 2006 maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northwestern University.
“The problem that we have is that we have so many gun sellers right now who are frequently selling guns but, in violation of the law, they pretend like, this isn’t my main job. I’m just doing this on the side. So, they’re not running background checks,” explained an Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS) representative.
Biden’s executive order calls for the Attorney General and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to write regulations that requires all and any gun sellers to get federal firearms licenses and run background checks on all customers before finalizing purchase.
The move sends a clear message to the Attorney General that gun control needs to be prioritized. But the bureaucratic process itself may cause a loss of momentum for this significant measure, as many attempts at reform have gone nowhere despite Americans firmly believing that more should be done to address mass shootings.
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Last year, Congress had a chance to pass HR 7910, known as the Protecting Our Kids Act. The bill makes various changes to federal firearms laws including establishing new criminal offenses and expanding the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. This attempt for gun control reform measures died in the Senate.
According to Statista, handguns have been the most used weapons for mass shootings, followed by rifles and shotguns, between 1982 to February 2023.
While Biden’s Executive Order also calls to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, it ultimately does not change any U.S. government policy.
Instead, it directs federal agencies to ensure compliance with existing laws and procedures — a typical feature of executive orders issued by presidents when they confront the limits of their own power to act without cooperation from Congress, according to ABC News.
Bans on assault weapons has shown to help prevent gun violence, particularly in mass shootings, based on a Giffords Law Center summary on assault weapons.
During the 10-year period the federal assault weapons ban was in effect in the U.S., the Law Center found mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur compared to the periods before and after the ban. Additionally, state level assault weapons ban help prevent mass shooting deaths, and in several major cities, the share of recovered crime guns that were assault weapons declined by at least 32% after the federal ban was adopted.