Category Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

President Biden Shows Benefits of Federal-Local Government Partnership in Address to US Conference of Mayors

President Joe Biden addresses 200 mayors at the US Conference of Mayors: “You understand the cost if we fail to act.  We need the voice of mayors telling the stories of what your communities need, and the impact we’re making on people’s lives or not making.  If we can get this done — I believe this with every fiber of my being: If we can get this done, there’s no limit what Americans can achieve.  So, let’s continue to give working families a fighting chance.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

On January 21, President Biden addressed over 200 bipartisan mayors during their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting. This was the President’s first time addressing the entire USCM since taking office. At this year’s convening, the President highlighted the strong partnership between his Administration and mayors during the past year to tackle unprecedented crises, rebuild the economy, and deliver results for working families. The President also discussed ways to further partner with cities on implementing the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the importance of passing the Build Back Better Act. 

Here is an edited transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

Mayors carry the quality of the people’s lives on your shoulders.

Everything you do every day affects their lives more than almost anything anybody else does.  And you can make or break a person’s day.  “Will the bus get me home on time?”  It sounds silly but, “Will the garbage get be picked up?”  “Will I be safe walking in the park?”

These are the bigger questions: “Can I afford to give my family a good life?”  “Will my kids have a chance to get a good job someday?”  “How will I rebuild from the fire or the storm?”

You know, all of these questions, they’re not partisan, but they’re practical.  People they look to are you…

That’s why, when I put together my Cabinet, I called on former mayors –Tom Vilsack was a governor; he was also a mayor.  Marcia Fudge, a mayor. Marty Walsh a mayor in Boston.  Pete Buttigieg was a mayor.  And I picked Mitch Landrieu to oversee the implementation of the infrastructure law, which is over a $1.2 trillion, because he knows how mayors get things done. (Applause.) .. Because mayors know the measure of success isn’t scoring partisan points, it’s did you fix the problem…

 
The infrastructure law is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we tackle problems the way mayors do.  Everybody in America knows we’ve fallen behind on infrastructure.  So we came together — Democrats and Republicans — and did something about it…

And, by the way, I want to thank you all.  More than 360 of you signed a letter that was sent to me when we were trying to get this legislation passed.  Three hundred and sixty of you.  You lobbied Congress to get it done, and it’s the reason it got done…  

And now, after years of dead-ends and broken promises, not only has “Infrastructure Week” finally arrived — (applause) — but we can literally, because of you, look forward to an “Infrastructure Decade.”…

We’ve announced billions of dollars for highways, ports, airports, water and sewage systems, high-speed Internet; funding to clean up the rivers in Ohio, chemical plants and sites in Florida, polluted lakes in Michigan and dozens of other sites; a new program to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells spewing methane into the air, cleaning up the communities that, in fact, they’re affecting, while [creating] good-paying jobs…

A new initiative to bolster our energy grid with stronger transmission lines and towers to keep the power flowing more reliably and, consequentially, more secure energy supply…

You know, more forest, homes, buildings, and businesses have been burned to the ground than make up — if you’re taking the square miles — than the entire state of New Jersey, from New York all the way down to Cape Henlopen.  That’s how much has burned to the ground.  A lot of it because of the lack of resilience in those towers that get blown over and the wires snap…


Last week, we rolled out a historic investments in our nation’s bridges, like the one I visited in New Hampshire, where restrictions forced school buses and fire trucks to go 10 miles out of their way just to get across a small river…

We’re going to upgrade thousands of bridges, creating good-paying jobs, cutting commute times, ensuring that as we build back, no community gets left behind.

Folks, that mayor’s view of problem-solving is exactly what we brought to the American Rescue Plan.  It’s designed so that you’d be able to have the resources and the flexibility to take both the short-term and long-term challenges created by this pandemic. A major part of the Rescue Plan was the $350 billion we allocated to state and local budgets.  And again, because of you, over $100 billion of that went directly to cities and counties, not through anybody.  (Applause.)  A hundred billion.

It was not easy to get done, but it was important to get done because you know it’s needed.  You didn’t have to go through your state legislature — or your governor – to get the money.

Today, communities are still putting those funds to work — keeping people on the job, connecting people to better jobs…

Use your funds to cover childcare costs or temporary paid leave to help certain workers dealing with Omicron; to build pathways to better jobs through union-based apprenticeships and on-the-job training; to give people in every ZIP code a chance to deal for themselves and deal them into this booming economy.

That also means building more affordable housing so people can have safe places closer to their jobs.

Funding proven programs to help fight violent crime.  We shouldn’t be cutting funding for police departments.  I proposed increasing funding… 


The truth is we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us this year.  We still have a lot of work to do to defeat COVID, to bring down costs for families.

But just look at what we’ve accomplished together so far, even in the face of those headwinds.

In 2021, more jobs are created in America than ever in a single year in American history.  More jobs — over 6 million.  The unemployment rate dropped more than any year in American history.  (Applause.)   

Income — incomes for folks working frontline jobs in service industries rose more than any year in history — the folks at the bottom of the economic rung.

We lowered child poverty in this country by nearly 40 percent — more than any time in U.S. history.  (Applause.)  

You all know this: Business applications grew by nearly 30 percent last year — more than any year in history.  If they’re saying everything is so bad, why are people fighting to open businesses?

More Americans gained health insurance than any year in history.

These are facts. 

To confront the climate crisis, we deployed more solar wind, batteries, and electric vehicles than ever, ever before.

And we’re teaming up with mayors, labor, and industry to save families and businesses money by improving energy efficiency in our buildings.

And in the battle against the deadly virus, we’ve gone from putting 2 million shots — vaccinations – in people’s arms to 210 million Americans fully vaccinated. (Applause.)

And you mayors have been critical partners…

And we still face tremendous challenges, though.  But together, we’ve proven that we can get big things done in this country.

Last year, with your help, we laid the groundwork.  This year, we have to build it.  The biggest weapon in our arsenal is the Build Back Better Act. Nothing is going to do more to ease pressure on families…

Every mayor knows if people can’t find and afford childcare, they can’t work.  (Applause.)  Some of your cities, it’s 14-, 15,000 bucks a year for childcare.  That’s why we have nearly 1.2 million extremely qualified women who haven’t been able to return to the workforce.

We can cut the cost of childcare in half and fix that problem.

Health insurance: We can reduce the cost for families — and we’ve done for $600 per year.

On climate: Extreme weather disasters cost communities $145 billion last year.  That’s how much we spent because of weather-related crises.  $145 billion.  By investing in resilience and clean energy technology, we can do something about that.

To give relief to families, in the American Rescue Plan we had the Childcare Tax Credit.  That did reduce child poverty by 40 percent.  There’s no reason it shouldn’t continue.  (Applause.)

And on education — on education: Today, about half of the three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education…

We can do this and more on healthcare, nutrition, and a host of other issues.

And, folks, here’s the point: We can do it without increasing inflation or the deficit.

Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics wrote a letter to me recently, affirming that this bill would reduce inflationary pressures on the economy, not increase — reduce it.  (Applause.)

And by the way — by the way, it’s entirely paid for.  (Applause.)  Every single penny.  (Applause.)  And not a single person making less than $400,000 a year will pay a single additional penny in federal taxes.  Not a single penny.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, I’m a capitalist.  I’m not a socialist.  If you can make $1 billion or $10 million, good for you.  Just begin to pay your fair share.  Pay a little bit.  (Applause.)

We can pay for all this by just making sure that the wealthy — making sure that the wealthy and the biggest corporations pay their fair share…

Look, we can tackle all these challenges just like we did with the Rescue Plan, the infrastructure law, and the fight against COVID, but we can’t do it without you… 

You understand the cost if we fail to act.  We need the voice of mayors telling the stories of what your communities need, and the impact we’re making on people’s lives or not making.  If we can get this done — I believe this with every fiber of my being: If we can get this done, there’s no limit what Americans can achieve.  So, let’s continue to give working families a fighting chance. 

Justice Department Announces New Rule to Enhance Safe Storage of Firearms

The March for Our Lives protest in Washington DC after the Parkland massacre by a former student. Despite this and other protests after school shootings, Congress has refused to do anything and states including Texas have made it easier to obtain guns, while the Supreme Court is considering overturning New York State’s gun restriction © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

BREAKING: A one-year-old child accidentally shoots their three-month-old sibling and mother at a Walmart in Texas after finding a gun concealed beneath the seat of the family vehicle. RT IF YOU THINK THIS MADNESS MUST BE STOPPED WITH NEW GUN LAWS! Occupy Democrats @OccupyDemocrats 7:08 PM · Jan 5, 2022

The Department of Justice is issuing a new rule to promote safe and secure storage of firearms, which would go a long way to reduce school shootings, for example, where an under-age person gets access to a gun. But the federal government should also use its purchasing power and rule making to require all guns purchased by the federal government (for military, law enforcement) be smart-guns that can only be used by the registered owner, which would make smart guns the norm.–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced a new rule to help enable the safe and secure storage of firearms and published a Best Practices Guide for federal firearms licensees (FFLs). This new rule implements the existing Gun Control Act requirement that federal firearms licensees that sell firearms to the general public (non-licensees) must certify that they have available secure gun storage or safety devices. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Best Practices Guide for FFLs is an important resource and reference guide about federal laws and regulations.

“Today’s announcements build on the department’s efforts to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Gun safety is a Department of Justice priority, and we will continue to take all appropriate steps to help reduce the number of people killed and injured by the misuse of firearms.”

The Department of Justice has submitted to the Federal Register for publication a final rule, which will take effect Feb. 3, requiring FFLs to certify that they have secure gun storage devices available to their customers for purchase. Secure gun storage or safety device, as defined by statute and regulation, includes a safe, gun safe, gun case, lock box or other device that is designed to be or can be used to store a firearm and that is designed to be unlocked only by means of a key, a combination or other similar means. Not all devices are compatible with varying types of firearms. Therefore, integral to the new rule is the requirement that FFLs have available secure gun storage options that are compatible with the firearms they are selling.

The final rule, published in the electronic reading room today, can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-28398/secure-gun-storage-and-definition-of-antique-firearm

In addition, today, the ATF published a Best Practices Guide for FFLs. The ATF’s Best Practices Guide is designed to assist FFLs in complying with all required firearm laws and regulations that are designed to ensure public safety and the traceability of firearms.

The Best Practices Guide also encourages FFLs to provide customers with ATF publications to help firearms owners better understand their legal obligations, as well as practical steps they can take to help keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons and facilitate the safe storage of firearms. Links to ATF publications addressing the following topics are included in the Best Practices Guide: procedures for FFLs to assist unlicensed firearms owners in conducting background checks for private party transfers; compliance with the Youth Handgun Safety Act; records firearms owners should maintain that can assist law enforcement if the owner’s firearms are ever lost or stolen; and the legal consequences and public safety dangers of straw purchasing – which involves purchasing a gun for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing one or for someone who does not want his or her name associated with the transaction. To view ATF’s Best Practices Guide, see: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/federal-firearms-licensee-quick-reference-and-best-practices-guide

New York Governor Hochul Signs into Law Nation’s Toughest Restrictions on Ghost Guns

From left to right: Jacob Dixon; CEO of Choice For All, Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Linda Beigel Schulman, Senator Brad Hoylman, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

WESTBURY, NY (October 28, 2021) – Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. The move follows action by the New York State Senate and Assembly, who passed the legislation in June, 2021. Together, The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act (S.13a), sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), and The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act (S.14a), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), create the strongest protections from these dangerous weapons in the nation.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul: “gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively,” said Governor Hochul. “Working with partners at all levels, my administration will continue to crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons and put an end to the gun violence epidemic.”

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun–period. For too long, the unfinished receiver loophole let anyone get their hands on all the parts needed to build an untraceable, unregistered AR-15 without ever going through a background check, but today, we’re taking historic action here in New York to close that dangerous loophole for good” said State Senator Anna M. Kaplan. 

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun—period,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I’m proud to be the sponsor of the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act because I know it’s going to save lives, just like Scott Beigel did when he gave his life to protect his students from gunfire during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m grateful for my partners in this effort, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Chuck Lavine, and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, each of whom have shown extraordinary leadership to make sure our state is combating the scourge of gun violence. And most importantly, I want to thank Scott Beigel’s parents Linda and Michael, for never giving up the fight to ensure that our communities are safe from gun violence.” 

State Senator Brad Hoylman: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check. I’m deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of Jose Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, along with Assembly Member Rosenthal, Senator Kaplan, Assembly Member Levine, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Governor Hochul for their leadership on this important issue.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, gun violence has spiked; so have sales of firearms and ghost guns. At the beginning of the pandemic, gun manufacturers reported massive sales of ghost gun kits; at least 16 manufacturers told customers they were experiencing shipping delays due to a high volume of orders. 

Ghost guns continue to pose a threat, both in New York and nationwide. Last week, a Queens man who had been ordering gun parts online was caught with an arsenal of do-it-yourself “ghost guns”ProPublica reported that the “Boogaloo Boys,” a right-wing militia group involved with the January 6 Capitol riots, have embraced ghost guns as one of their preferred weapons.

“The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act”, sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Charles Lavine, specifically addresses the proliferation of “unfinished receivers” or “80% Receivers” which can be purchased online without a background check and which are easily converted into operable firearms by people with limited skills. The legislation:

  • Defines what constitutes an unfinished frame or receiver
  • Makes possession of an unfinished frame or receiver by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer illegal
  • Prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by persons who are otherwise lawfully prohibited from possessing such weapons
  • Makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Amidst an epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States, I commend my good friend Governor Kathy Hochul for supporting and signing this bill which I sponsored in the Assembly,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.  This new law further strengthens New York’s existing gun safety laws, already among the toughest in the country.  It also significantly increases protection to our community and our children by creating much more accountability.  It is intended, just as Scott intended, to save lives.” 

Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Lavine’s legislation is named in memory of Scott J. Beigel, the hero teacher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who lost his life during the shooting over three years ago while shielding his students from gunfire. Beigel’s parents, Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman of Long Island, are nationally recognized advocates in the fight against gun violence. 

Linda Beigel Schulman has put her grief at losing her son Scott, a teacher who died protecting his students at Parkland, into unceasing activism to prevent gun violence. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speaking to the crowded room  at the “Yes We Can” community center in Westbury, Long Island, Linda Beigel Schulman reflected back to Feb 13, 2018, when she spoke to Scott, exchanged, “I love yous” and “Have a good rest of today. I’ll speak to you tomorrow.” “He walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and gave his last breath after saving lives. A 19 year old shot him 16 times with an AR15 assault rifle. I made a vow to myself and my son to do everything to end gun violence…Nothing will bring Scott back, but these new laws today will save lives.”

“The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act” sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, prohibits the sale and possession of unregistered ghost guns and ensures law enforcement will be able to track the manufacture and sale of all guns in New York. The legislation:

  • Defines a “ghost gun” as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that isn’t serialized and registered in accordance with either state or federal law
  • Prohibits the possession of ghost guns by anyone but a licensed gunsmith
  • Prohibits the sale of ghost guns entirely
  • Prohibits the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
  • Requires New York gunsmiths to serialize all firearms, rifles, shotguns, or unfinished frames or receivers they manufacture or assemble, and to register any such gun, or unfinished frame or receiver that isn’t otherwise covered by federal serialization law with the Division of State Police
“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Closing the ghost gun loophole by signing the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, along with the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act, will help to keep our communities safe. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing these bills into law. I look forward to working with the Executive to passing more legislation to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence in the future.”

Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation is named in memory of Jose Webster, a young man from The Bronx killed by gun violence in 2011. Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, has become a gun violence prevention advocate.

The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, S.13a, will take effect in 180 days. Individuals who currently possess an unfinished frame or receiver as defined in the new law have 360 days from today to either voluntarily surrender the unfinished frame or receiver to authorized law enforcement officials, or bring the piece into compliance with the law regarding serialization and registration. 

The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, S.14a, will take effect in 180 days. There is a six month grace period to turn in ghost guns or have them registered and serialized.

Legislation S.7152/A.6522 adds firearms capable of being concealed and designed to resemble toys to the definition of a ‘disguised gun’ and prohibits their manufacture, design, or sale. Weapons capable of causing severe injury and death but that resemble toys are unjustifiably deceptive, and pose a clear threat to the safety of both children, who may mistake them for actual toys, and the public at large. 

State Senator John Brooks:No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gun violence epidemic has stolen the lives of so many in our state and country, and we have only seen the problem grow worse in recent years,” said Senator John Brooks. “Common sense measures like this legislation to crackdown on disguised guns are critical to protecting New Yorkers. No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else. I am thankful to local law enforcement for the support they provided in getting this bipartisan bill passed and I applaud Governor Hochul for her continued effort to keep New Yorkers safe.” 

“I am proud to sponsor this critically important legislation that will prohibit the design, manufacture and possession of disguised guns in New York State,” said Assemblymember Steve Stern. “These weapons put our law enforcement personnel at a dangerous disadvantage in situations when they are facing down the barrel of a gun and have a split second to decide if it is a toy or a real weapon, a split second that could make the difference between life or death. This legis will protect our entire community and save lives.  I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their bi-partisan support of this legislation and applaud Governor Hochul’s strong leadership on this important issue.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, speaking directly to Linda Biegel Schulman and husband Michael: “I know your story, your pain, and the fact you are out everyday to fight for common sense gun laws is inspiring. Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.”

A moment between Linda Beigel Schulman and Governor Kathy Hochul after the signing of gun violence prevention bills aimed at restricting ghost guns © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Hochul added, “it is nothing short of extraordinary – so many affected. To have lost someone you treasured, when you lose a child, it is more than heartbreak, it is a permanent mark on your soul. So many retreat in pain, suffer in silence. It takes an extraordinary person to say, I won’t suffer in silence.

“This is a new era of collaboration, we are changing things. What we accomplished solidifies New York as having the toughest gun laws in the nation.”

Gun violence prevention activists from Moms Demand Action © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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DoJ Forms Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces to Crack Down on Sources of Guns Used to Commit Crimes

President Joe Biden, standing with Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland on April 8, 2021, declared, “gun violence in the US is an epidemic.” Since then, he has implemented a number of gun violence prevention initiatives. Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. Tomorrow, the Attorney General will discuss with the President, law enforcement officials, and local and community leaders, this initiative, which, along with other measures, the Department of Justice is undertaking as part of the administration-wide comprehensive strategy to combat the rise in violent crime. 

Gun violence is a major driver in the increase in violent crime over the last 18 months, and today’s action is an important step in stemming the supply of illegally trafficked firearms which are used in deadly shootings and other violent crimes.

“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.”

The five strike forces will focus on significant firearms trafficking corridors that channel guns into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C. They will be led by designated U.S. Attorneys who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and with state and local law enforcement partners in places where firearms originate and where they are used to commit crimes. The strike forces will share information and otherwise collaborate across districts where firearms trafficking schemes cross state or jurisdictional boundaries to focus enforcement against entire trafficking networks, from the places where guns are unlawfully obtained to the areas where they are used to commit violent crimes.

At an event today hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum, attended by hundreds of law enforcement professionals from around the country, the Deputy Attorney General spoke about the strike force launch, emphasizing the department’s commitment to working closely with state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement partners as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce crime and make our communities safer.

Today’s announcement builds on the Justice Department’s broader Violent Crime Reduction Initiative, announced on May 26, 2021, that supports local communities in preventing, investigating and prosecuting gun violence and other violent crime. In guidance to federal agents and prosecutors as part of that comprehensive strategy, the Deputy Attorney General made clear that firearms traffickers that provide weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the country. 

Biden Administration Announces Whole-of-Government Actions to Address Gun Violence Public Health Epidemic

President Joe Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland, in the White House Rose Garden, introduced executive actions aimed at curbing the epidemic of gun violence which has so plagued the nation and caused so much misery, trauma and “international embarrassment.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House issued fact sheets detailing the executive actions the Biden Administration announced on April 7 to address the gun violence, along with a whole-of-government response to the public health epidemic of gun violence, including regulating ghost guns, pistols enhanced with braces, incentivizing states to implement Red Flag laws, and launching community-based anti-violence programs. At the same time, President Joe Biden called upon Congress to pass universal background checks, ending gun manufacturers’ immunity, and issuing a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.

The recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder – taking the lives of 10 individuals – and Atlanta – taking the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian American women – underscored the relentlessness of this epidemic. Gun violence takes lives and leaves a lasting legacy of trauma in communities every single day in this country, even when it is not on the nightly news. In fact, cities across the country are in the midst of a historic spike in homicides, violence that disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans. The President is committed to taking action to reduce all forms of gun violence – community violence, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide by firearm and detailed a whole-of-government response.
 
Meanwhile, President Biden reiterated his call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence. Last month, a bipartisan coalition in the House passed two bills to close loopholes in the gun background check system. Congress should close those loopholes and go further, including by closing “boyfriend” and stalking loopholes that currently allow people found by the courts to be abusers to possess firearms, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and investing in evidence-based community violence interventions. Congress should also pass an appropriate national “red flag” law, as well as legislation incentivizing states to pass “red flag” laws of their own.
 
“But this Administration will not wait for Congress to act to take its own steps – fully within the Administration’s authority and the Second Amendment – to save lives.” The Administration announced the following six initial actions:
 
The Justice Department, within 30 days, will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns.” We are experiencing a growing problem: criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number. The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of these firearms.
 
The Justice Department, within 60 days, will issue a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.
 
The Justice Department, within 60 days, will publish model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. The President urges Congress to pass an appropriate national “red flag” law, as well as legislation incentivizing states to pass “red flag” laws of their own. In the interim, the Justice Department’s published model legislation will make it easier for states that want to adopt red flag laws to do so.
 
The Administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions. Community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration. Because cities across the country are experiencing a historic spike in homicides, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking a number of steps to prioritize investment in community violence interventions.

  • The American Jobs Plan proposes a $5 billion investment over eight years to support community violence intervention programs. A key part of community violence intervention strategies is to help connect individuals to job training and job opportunities.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is organizing a webinar and toolkit to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions.
  • Five federal agencies are making changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. These changes mean we can start increasing investments in community violence interventions as we wait on Congress to appropriate additional funds.

 The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. In 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) issued a report summarizing information regarding its investigations into firearms trafficking, which is one way firearms are diverted into the illegal market where they can easily end up in the hands of dangerous individuals. Since the report’s publication, states, local, and federal policymakers have relied on its data to better thwart the common channels of firearms trafficking. But there is good reason to believe that firearms trafficking channels have changed since 2000, for example due to the emergence of online sales and proliferation of “ghost guns.” The Justice Department will issue a new, comprehensive report on firearms trafficking and annual updates necessary to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking today.

The President will nominate David Chipman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF is the key agency enforcing our gun laws, and it needs a confirmed director in order to do the job to the best of its ability. But ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015. Chipman served at ATF for 25 years and now works to advance commonsense gun safety laws.

Details on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investments in Community Violence Interventions

 Cities across the country are experiencing a historic spike in homicides, violence that is greatest in racially segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods. Black men make up 6% of the population but over 50% of gun homicide victims. Black women, Latinos, and Native Americans are also disproportionately impacted. The loss of life has devasting consequences for family members and cascading harms for communities. As just one example, research shows that exposure to firearm violence—including as a victim or witness—makes it twice as likely an adolescent will commit a violent act within two years. 
 
But there is reason to be optimistic. We know that a relatively small number of people are involved in urban gun violence, whether as perpetrators or victims. There are proven community violence intervention (CVI) strategies for reducing gun violence through tools other than incarceration. For example, violence interruption programs deploy trusted messengers work directly with individuals most likely to commit gun violence, intervene in conflicts, and connect people to social and economic services to reduce the likelihood of gun violence as an answer.  Hospital-based violence interventions engage people who have been shot while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to services to decrease the likelihood that they commit gun violence or are victimized in the future. Programs like these have reduced homicides by as much as 60% in areas where they are implemented.
 
To date, CVI programs have been badly underfunded, even though the economic consequences of gun violence are staggering. One study calculates that gun violence costs America $280 billion annually. For fraction of that cost, we can save lives, create safe and healthy communities, and build an economy that works for all of us.
 
As part of a package of initial actions to reduce gun violence, the Biden-Harris Administration announces historic investments in community violence intervention to combat the gun violence epidemic. 
 
American Jobs Plan: President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, unveiled last week, calls on Congress to invest $5 billion over eight years to support evidence-based community violence intervention programs that train at-risk individuals for jobs and provide other wraparound services to prevent violence and assist victims. These strategies will help rebuild economies in the hardest hit areas.
 
Medicaid Funding: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is organizing a webinar and toolkit to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions
Leveraging Existing Grant Programs: Five agencies are making changes to existing federal funding streams across 26 programs to direct vital support to CVI programs quickly as possible. For example:

  • The Department of Justice will give priority to applicants proposing CVI strategies in its Comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention and Reductions Programs, a $11 million competitive grant that provides funding for programs that prevent and reduce youth violence. The solicitation will post by the end of April 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • The Department of Justice will develop guidance to clarify that states can use their allocations from annual Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding—including over $1 billion in FY21—for CVI efforts and will provide training and technical assistance on CVI to grantees.
  • The National Institutes of Health will prioritize community-based intervention research for its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grant awards. These programs will provide $12.5 million to improve understanding of the determinants of firearm injury, those most at risk (including both victims and perpetrators), and strategies to prevent firearm injury and mortality. Applications are due April 30, 2021, with awards expected in September 2021.

 Full List of Agency Actions
 
Department of Justice

  • DOJ will place a special emphasis on CVI in its FY21 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program,  a $484 million formula grant that is the leading federal source of criminal justice funding to states, territories, local governments, and Tribes. The solicitation will post by June 1, 2021 and the awards will be made by September 30, 2021. In addition, DOJ will highlight CVI in its National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) website.
  • DOJ will issue guidance to raise awareness that the $18.9 million under its FY21 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program is available to support CVI efforts. This solicitation was posted on January 11, 2021, and its deadlines are April 26, 2021 on Grants.gov and May 10, 2021 on JustGrants.
  • DOJ will include CVI as a topic area in its FY21 Community Policing Development (CPD) Micro-Grants, a $3 million program that supports innovative community policing strategies. The solicitation will be posted by April 15, 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021. 
  • DOJ will make CVI a priority focus area in its FY21 Cops Hiring Program, a $156 million competitive grant program that funds entry-level law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies that partner with community organizations to implement community violence intervention strategies will receive preference points in the scoring of applications. The solicitation will be posted by the end of April 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will give priority to applicants proposing CVI strategies in its FY21 Smart Policing program, which provides $8 million in funding, training, and technical assistance for law enforcement to use data and technology to respond to crime. The solicitation will post by April 30, 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021. 
  • DOJ will issue guidance to clarify that community-based organizations with CVI proposals are eligible for the $12.75 million Second Chance Act Community-Based Reentry Program. This solicitation was posted on January 14, 2021, and its deadlines are April 13, 2021 on Grants.gov and April 27, 2021 on JustGrants.
  • DOJ will make clear to all judicial districts that they can support CVI programs through Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) funding and technical assistance. PSN is designed to make neighborhoods safer through a sustained reduction in violent crime. The solicitation will post by April 30, 2021 and the awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will support CVI through its FY21 Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence program, a $7 million program that provides funding, training, and technical assistance to communities to address children’s exposure to violence and prevent gun violence. Priority will be given to CVI applicants and technical assistance providers addressing youth violence. The solicitation will post by the end of April 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will give priority to CVI applicants in its Comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention and Reductions Programs, a $11 million competitive grant that funds youth violence prevention and reduction. The solicitation will post by the end of April 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will continue to uplift CVI programs via webinars and trainings through the National Gang Center. The National Gang Center will expand its outreach efforts to interested communities about evidence-based models, such as the Comprehensive Gang Model that includes street outreach and violence interrupters.
  • DOJ will support CVI in its FY21 School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP), a $53 million competitive grant program that funds equipment, technology, and training to address school violence. Applicants that have experienced high rates of gun violence will receive priority, with an emphasis on wraparound services for students most likely to engage in or be victimized by gun violence. The solicitation will be posted by April 15, 2021 and awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will support CVI through its FY21 Hospital-Based Victim Services program, a $2 million funding stream for programs that link the victim services field and medical facilities. The solicitation will post by the end of April 2021 and the awards will be made by September 30, 2021.
  • DOJ will support CVI through the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) new Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services program, which will provide $3 million to an organization to launch a national resource to improve trauma-informed, victim-centered services in communities of color. The solicitation will post by the end of April 2021 and the award will be made by September 30, 2021. 
  • DOJ OVC will release guidance to clarify that the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Assistance Rule does not prevent states from using VOCA funding—over $1 billion in FY21—for CVI efforts. The guidance will also inform states that funding CVI programs is a means to meet VOCA’s requirement that 10% of funds go toward serving underserved communities. In addition, OVC’s Training and Technical Center (OVC TTAC) and its new Center for VOCA Administrators (VOCA Center) will to provide assistance around CVI strategies.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • The National Institutes of Health published two opportunities for Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research in March, PAR-21-191 and PAR-21-192. These programs will provide $12.5 million to improve understanding of the determinants of firearm injury, those most at risk, and interventions that prevent firearm injury and mortality. For grant applications with comparable scientific merit, NIH will prioritize applications about CVI. Applications are due April 30, 2021, with awards expected in September 2021.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a notice of funding opportunity in March for Preventing Violence Affecting Young Lives (PREVAYL), a program that addresses violence impacting adolescent and young adults. CDC anticipates awarding $10 million over 5 years. CDC will highlight CVI strategies in an April 8 informational call, through guidance, and on its website. Applications are due May 1, 2021, with awards expected by August 2021.
  • CDC has an open funding opportunity announcement for its National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (Youth Violence Prevention Centers or YVPCs) program, which builds the evidence base for strategies like CVI that reduce rates of youth violence within geographic communities. CDC anticipates awarding $30 million over 5 years. Applications are due April 21, 2021, with awards expected in September.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • HUD will encourage applicants for the FY21 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a $200 million competitive place-based grant program that transforms underserved neighborhoods, to include CVI as part of their overall public safety strategy to reduce crime. HUD will discuss the importance of CVI in the notice of funding announcement and in grantee resources.
  • HUD will encourage grantees of Community Development Block Grant – CV Funds (CDBG-CV), who received a special appropriation of $5 billion through the CARES Act, to use part of their allocations to support CVI efforts needed to combat violence as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. HUD will publish a guide by June that explains how CVI activities can use CDBG funds, which will also apply to annual formula CDBG funds—approximately $3.4 billion per year.

Department of Education

  • ED will issue guidance on how grantees can use 21st Century Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to support children impacted by trauma and reengage disconnected youth.  21st CCLC provides $1.26 billion for community learning centers with after-school and summer programs for students in high-poverty and underperforming schools. New awards will be made July 1, 2021.
  • ED will support states and school districts in investing Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) funds toward CVI activities via a guidance document and technical assistance. SSAE is a $1.22 billion program that boosts academic achievement by improving learning conditions. New awards will be made July 1, 2021.
  • ED will launch a new competition in FY22 for Project Prevent, an $11 million program that helps schools increase their capacity to identify and serve students who have been exposed to pervasive violence by expanding access to counseling and conflict-resolution strategies.  
  • ED will incentivize applicants to use CVI-focused strategies in two grant competitions for FY22: Full Service Community Schools and Promise Neighborhoods. Full-Service Community Schools supports partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to offer academic and social services for students in high-poverty communities. Promise Neighborhoods supports coordinated community pipeline services to improve educational outcomes in the most underserved neighborhoods.

Department of Labor

  • DOL will issue guidance to state and local workforce agencies and nonprofits under its Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, encouraging grantees to incorporate CVI into their activities. WIOA provides $3.5 billion in formula and discretionary grants to support employment and training programs for low-income adults, disadvantaged youth, and dislocated workers. YouthBuild, a WIOA discretionary program, provides $89 million annually for pre-apprenticeship programs for at-risk youth, including youth who are formerly incarcerated.

DOL will make CVI an allowable grant activity in Program Year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) for its Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants, $25 million for organizations providing education and employment training to young adults who left high school before graduation or have had justice system involvement. The grants prepare participants who reside in high-poverty and high-crime communities—those disproportionately impacted by gun violence—for stable, quality employment.  The funding opportunity announcement will be posted in early 2022.

Biden Issues Executive Actions Tackling Gun Violence: ‘This is an epidemic, for God’s sake. And it has to stop.’

President Joe Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland, in the White House Rose Garden, introduced executive actions aimed at curbing the epidemic of gun violence which has so plagued the nation and caused so much misery, trauma and “international embarrassment.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The culture war revolving around “gun rights” (as if the 2nd Amendment did not already specify “well regulated” and “militia” – that is, to protect the state in the absence of a standing army) suggests fear of a tyrannical government. But the focus on unlimited, unfettered, unregulated guns everywhere while blaming “mental illness” after the fact suggests an even more dangerous role for government, in deciding pre-crime who will likely be a murderer. But the government can’t be responsible for anticipating who or when someone will snap. The only common denominator to the 100 deaths each day, 300 injured each day possibly for life, this epidemic of gun violence, this “international embarrassment” that costs $280 billion a year in death, prosecution, imprisonment, health care, lost productivity is the obscene availability of guns, ghost guns, and assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, weapons manufactured for war whose only purpose is large scale murder of people.

President Joe Biden has had enough, and offered six initial steps while pleading with the Senate to pass the already-passed House measures for universal background checks. One of them, that he actually said was his highest priority, was ending the immunity from liability that the $1 billion gun manufacturing industry has, the only industry that has such immunity. He should have added that the federal government will require every gun it purchases – for military, for law enforcement including grants it makes to local police departments – have Smart technology.

Besides the emotional trauma and tragedy, President Biden also put gun violence epidemic into economic terms that Republicans might appreciate more:  Gun violence in America costs the nation $280 billion a year – hospital bills, physical therapy, trauma counseling, legal fees, prison costs, and the loss of productivity.” And for those Republicans who all of a sudden are so gravely concerned about the trauma of children not being able to attend school in person, he noted, “the psychological damage done to the children who live in these cities, watching this happen, knowing someone it happened to.” Except that children will eventually go back to school once the coronavirus pandemic is under control; they will never get back their parent or sibling. 

“This gun violence in our neighborhood is having a profound impact on our children, even if they’re never involved in pulling the trigger or being the victim of — on the other side of a trigger.
 
“For a fraction of the cost of gun violence, we can save lives, create safe and healthy communities, and build economies that work for all of us, and save billions of American dollars.” 

President Biden also called for:

Reining in ghost guns

Require Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to prepare a report on its investigations into firearms trafficking in America annually

Make pistols modified with stabilizing braces subject to the National Firearms Act, subject to taxation and registration

Expand state adoption of extreme risk protection order laws, known as “red flag” laws; instruct the Department of Justice to issue model legislation. This would reduce dramatically the number of suicides (half are by guns); and murders of women by domestic partners (53 women are shot dead each month), and cut down on mass murders by mentally unstable individuals who just snap.

Recognizing historic spikes in homicide rates in cities across the country, proposing to fund community programs to address violence.

Name a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, which hasn’t had a permanent director since 2015; nominating David Chipman who worked at ATF for 25 years.

My job, the job of any President, is to protect the American people.  Whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal as President to keep the American people safe from gun violence.  But there’s much more that Congress can do to help that effort.  And they can do it right now.
 
“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers — members of Congress — but they’ve passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence.  Enough prayers.  Time for some action.”

He urged the Senate to immediately pass three House-passed bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchases — purchasers to bypass the background checks: require background checks for anyone purchasing a gun at a gun show or an online sale; close the “Charleston loophole” which limits the FBI’s background check timeline to three days (initiated under AG Ashcroft in the George Bush administration); and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

He also called for a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines (Biden sponsored the passage of the last one, in effect 1994-2004, as Senator)

“There’s no reason someone needs a weapon of war with 100 rounds, 100 bullets that can be fired from that weapon.  Nobody needs that.  Nobody needs that.”

“Everything that’s being proposed today is totally consistent with the Second Amendment.  And there’s a wide consensus behind the need to take action.
 
“I know that when overwhelming majorities of Americans want to see something change that will affect their lives and it still doesn’t change, it can be demoralizing to our fellow citizens.  It can feel like our entire political process is broken. 

“No matter how long it takes, we’re going to get these passed.  We’re not going to give up.  We have an opportunity to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to keep our people safe.  And in the process, we can show the world and show ourselves that democracy works, that we can come together and get big things done.”

Here is an edited, highlighted version of President Biden’s remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday, April 8:

President Joe Biden, declaring gun violence “an epidemic, for God’s sake.  And it has to stop,” issued six executive actions and called upon the Senate to pass the three measures already passed by the House to make background checks universal, called upon overturning immunity for gun manufacturers and a new assault weapons ban © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re joined today by the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who I’ve asked to prioritize gun violence.  It’s also good to see the Second Gentleman, who is here.  And it’s good to see the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who cares deeply about this issue as well. 

And I look out there and I see so many members of Congress who have led in this fight.  So many of you who have never given up.  So many of you who are absolutely determined, as Murph and others are, to get this done. 

We got a long way to go.  It always seems like we always have a long way to go.  But I also — today, we’re taking steps to confront not just the gun crisis, but what is actually a public health crisis.  Nothing — nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment.  They’re phony, arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we’re talking about. 

But no amendment — no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech.From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own.  From the very beginning that the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons.  So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution. 

Gun violence in this country is an epidemic.  Let me say it again: Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.  (Applause.) 

You know, we saw that again.  Last night, as I was coming to the Oval office, I got the word that, in South Carolina, a physician with his wife, two grandchildren, and a person working at his house was gunned down — all five.  So many people — so many of the people sitting here today know that well, unfortunately.  You know, they know what it’s like when the seconds change your life forever. 

I have had the — the pleasure of getting to meet, in awful circumstances, many of you — many of you who’ve lost your children, your husbands, your wives.  You know, they know what it’s like to bury a piece of their soul deep in the Earth.  We understand that. 

Mark and Jackie, I want to tell you: It’s always good to see you, but not under these circumstances. 

I want to say, before I introduce the rest of the folks, is, you know, what — a lot of people have not been through what they’ve been through — don’t understand.  It takes a lot of courage to come to an event like this.  They’re absolutely, absolutely determined to make change. 

But Mark and Jackie, whose son Daniel was a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Daniel loved sports — loves outdoors sports, getting muddy.

I see my friend Fred Guttenberg.  His daughter, Jaime, was a freshman at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.  She was an accomplished dancer.

I see Brandon Wolf, who — the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.  He survived, but his two best friends died. 

Greg Jackson, who was just walking down the street when he was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight.

And, of course, I see a close friend of Jill’s and mine, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who is here.  Who was speaking with her constituents in front a grocery store in her state when she was shot and a member of her staff was killed. 

You know, they’re here, and their pain is immense.  And, you know, what a lot of you — hopefully many of you — don’t know is if you’ve gone through a trauma, no matter how much you work to make sure others don’t go through it, every time you show up at an event like this, it brings back when you got that phone call.  It brings back the immediacy of what happened at that moment. 

So I genuinely mean it: Thank you.  Thank you for having the courage to be here, the courage to continue this fight.  Senator Blumenthal understands it.  A lot of the folks out here understand it.  But it takes real courage, so thank you.   

To turn pain into purpose and demand that we take the actions that gives meaning to the word “enough.”  Enough.  Enough.  Enough.  Enough.  Because what they want you to know, what they want you to do is not just listen. 

Every day in this country, 316 people are shot.  Every single day.  A hundred and six of them die every day.  Our flag was still flying at half-staff for the victims of the horrific murder of 8 primarily Asian American people in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass murder in Colorado. 

You probably didn’t hear it, but between those two incidents, less than one week apart, there were more than 850 additional shootings — 850 — that took the lives of more than 250 people, and left 500 — 500 — injured.  This is an epidemic, for God’s sake.  And it has to stop. 

So I’m here to talk about two things: first, the steps we’re going to take immediately, and, second, the action that needs to be taken going forward to curb the epidemic of gun violence.

I asked the Attorney General and his team to identify for me immediate, concrete actions I could can take now without having to go through the Congress.   And today, I’m announcing several initial steps my administration is taking to curb this epidemic of gun violence. 

Much more need be done, but first, I want to rein in the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns.”   These are guns that are homemade, built from a kit that include the directions on how to finish the firearm.  You can go buy the kit.  They have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced. 

And the buyers aren’t required to pass a background check to buy the kit to make the gun.  Consequently, anyone — anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a weapon.

You know, I want to see these kits treated as firearms under the Gun Control Act, which is going to require that the seller and manufacturers make the key parts with serial numbers and run background checks on the buyers when they walk in to buy that package. 

The second action we’re going to take — back in 2000 — the year 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms released a report on its investigations into firearms trafficking in America.  The report was of pivotal value.  It was an important tool for policymakers when I was in the Senate and beyond, at all levels, to stop firearms from being illegally diverted into dangerous hands. 

Today, with online sales and ghost guns, times and trafficking methods have changed, and we have to adjust.  We also have to ask the Justice Department to release a new annual report.  This report will better help policymakers address firearms trafficking as it is today, not what it was yesterday. 

A third change: We want to treat pistols modified with stabilizing braces with the seriousness they deserve.  A stabilizing brace — you’re going to (inaudible) — essentially, it makes that pistol a hell of a lot more accurate and a mini-rifle.  As a result, it’s more lethal, effectively turning into a short-barreled rifle.  That’s what the alleged shooter in Boulder appears to have done.

I want to be clear that these modifications to firearms that make them more lethal should be subject to the National Firearms Act.  The National Firearms Act requires that a potential owner pay a$200 fee and submit their name and other identifying information to the Justice Department, just as they would if they went out and purchased a silencer for a gun. 

Fourthly, during my campaign for President, I wanted to make it easier for states to adopt extreme risk protection order laws.  They’re also called “red flag” laws, which everybody on this lawn knows, but many people listening do not know.  These laws allow a police or family member to petition a court in their jurisdiction and say, “I want you to temporarily remove from the following people any firearm they may possess because they’re a danger.  In a crisis, they’re presenting a danger to themselves and to others.”And the court makes a ruling. 

To put this in perspective, more than half of all suicides, for example, involve the use of a firearm.  But when a gun is not available, an attempt at suicide — the death rate drops precipitously.  States that have red flag laws have seen and — seen a reduction in the number of suicides in their states. 

Every single month, by the way, an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.  I wrote the Violence Against Women Act.  It’s been a constant struggle to keep it moving.  We know red flag laws can have a significant effect in protecting women from domestic violence.  And we know red flag laws can stop mass shooters before they can act out their violent plans. 

I’m proud — “Excuse the point of personal privilege,” as we used to say in the Senate — I’m proud that the red flag law in my home state of Delaware was named after my son, Attorney General Beau Biden — our son; excuse me, Jill — who proposed that legislation back in 2013. 

I want to see a national red flag law and legislation to incentivize states to enact their own red flag laws.  Today, I asked the Justice Department to publish a model red flag legislation so states can start crafting their own laws right now.  Just like with background checks, the vast majority of Americans support these extreme risk protection order laws, and it’s time to put these laws on the books and protect even more people.  The Attorney General will have more to say about this in a moment. 

Additionally, we recognize that cities across the country are experiencing historic spikes in homicides, as the law enforcement can tell you.  The violence is hitting Black and brown communities the hardest.  Homicide is the leading cause of death of Black boys and men ages 15 to 34 — the leading cause of death.

But there are proven strategies that reduce gun violence in urban communities, and there are programs that have demonstrated they can reduce homicides by up to 60 percent in urban communities.  But many of these have been badly underfunded or not funded at all of late.

Gun violence in America — for those of you who think of this from an economic standpoint listening to me — estimated to cost the nation $280 billion –- let me say it again — $280 billion a year.  They said, “How could that be, Joe?”  Hospital bills, physical therapy, trauma counseling, legal fees, prison costs, and the loss of productivity.  Not to mention the psychological damage done to the children who live in these cities, watching this happen, knowing someone it happened to. 

This gun violence in our neighborhood is having a profound impact on our children, even if they’re never involved in pulling the trigger or being the victim of — on the other side of a trigger.
 
For a fraction of the cost of gun violence, we can save lives, create safe and healthy communities, and build economies that work for all of us, and save billions of American dollars. 

In the meantime, much of it, as Senator Cicilline knows, is taxpayer money.

Finally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the key agency enforcing gun laws, hasn’t had a permanent director since 2015.

Today, I’m proud to nominate David Chipman to serve as the Director of the ATF.  David knows the AFT well.  He served there for 25 years.  And Vice President Harris and I believe he’s the right person, at this moment, for this important agency.

And I’ve said before: My job, the job of any President, is to protect the American people.  Whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal as President to keep the American people safe from gun violence.  But there’s much more that Congress can do to help that effort.  And they can do it right now.

They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers — members of Congress — but they’ve passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence.  Enough prayers.  Time for some action.

I believe the Senate should immediately pass three House-passed bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchases — purchasers to bypass the background checks.  The vast majority of the American people, including gun owners, believe there should be background checks before you purchase a gun.

As was noted earlier, hundreds of thousands of people have been denied guns because of the background checks.  What more would have happened? 

These bills, one, require background checks for anyone purchasing a gun at a gun show or an online sale.  (Applause.)

Most people don’t know: If you walk into a store and you buy a gun, you have a background check.  But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background check.

Second thing is to close what’s known as the “Charleston” loophole.  Like people here, I spent time down at that church in Charleston.  What happened is someone was allowed to get the gun used to kill those innocent people at a church service.  If the FBI didn’t complete the background check within three days. 

There’s a process.  If wasn’t done in three days, according to Charleston loophole, you get to buy the gun.  They bought the gun and killed a hell of a lot of innocent people who invited him to pray with them.

And three, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which — the so-called — close — (applause) — the “boyfriend” and “stalking” loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of people found by a court to be an abuser and continuing threat.

I held over a thousand hours of hearings to pass the Violence Against Women Act, and one thing came through.  If, in fact, a stay-away order — an order preventing the abuser from coming in a certain distance of the person he has abused or she has abused — and now the idea that they can own a weapon when they have a court order saying they are an abuser? 

These are some of the best tools we have right now to prevent gun violence and save lives.  But all these bills, they had support of both Democrats and Republicans in the House.  And universal background checks are supported by the vast majority of the American people and, I might add, the vast majority of responsible gun owners.

So let me be clear: This is not a partisan issue among the American people.  This is a view by the American people as an American issue.  And I’m willing to work with anyone to get these done. And it’s long past time that we act. 

Now, I know this has been a hobbyhorse of mine for a long time — got it done once.  We should also ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country.  (Applause.)

For that 10 years we had it done, the number of mass shootings actually went down.  Even law enforcement officials have told me and told other champions of this legislation they sometimes feel outgunned by assault weapons with large-capacity magazines. 

There’s no reason someone needs a weapon of war with 100 rounds, 100 bullets that can be fired from that weapon.  Nobody needs that.  Nobody needs that.

We got that done when I was a United States senator.  It wasn’t easy going up against the gun lobby, but it saved lives.  And we should also eliminate gun manufacturers from the immunity they received from the Congress.  (Applause.)

You realize — again, the people here — because they’re so knowledgeable out here in the Rose Garden.  But what people don’t realize: The only industry in America — a billion-dollar industry — that can’t be sued — has exempt from being sued — are gun manufacturers. 

Imagine how different it would be had that same exemption been available to tobacco companies who knew — who knew and lied about the danger they were causing — the cancer caused and the like.  Imagine where we’d be.

But this is the only outfit that is exempt from being sued. If I get one thing on my list — the Lord came down and said, “Joe, you get one of these” — give me that one.  (Applause.)  Because I tell you what, there would be a “come to the Lord” moment these folks would have real quickly.  But they’re not.  They’re not. They’re exempt. 

I know that the conversation about guns in this country can be a difficult one.  But even here, there’s much more common ground than we — anyone would believe.  There’s much more common ground.

Everything that’s being proposed today is totally consistent with the Second Amendment.  And there’s a wide consensus behind the need to take action.
 
I know that when overwhelming majorities of Americans want to see something change that will affect their lives and it still doesn’t change, it can be demoralizing to our fellow citizens.  It can feel like our entire political process is broken. 

I know it’s painful and frustrating that we haven’t made the progress that we’d hoped for.  But it took five years to get the Brady bill passed, and it took even more years to work to pass the assault weapons ban.  And it saved lives. 

No matter how long it takes, we’re going to get these passed.  We’re not going to give up.  We have an opportunity to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to keep our people safe.  And in the process, we can show the world and show ourselves that democracy works, that we can come together and get big things done.

When I look around and see such brave survivors sitting out here in the Rose Garden, public servants who devoted their lives to dealing with this, advocates who feel strongly and are pushing every day to make the rational changes, and courageous parents and family members, I know that progress, even in this most difficult of issues, is possible.

So, folks, this is just the start.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.  But I know almost every one of you sitting in the garden here; none of you have ever given up.  We’re not going to give up now. 

The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as nation.

Let me say to all of you: God bless you, but most importantly, the memory of all many of you have lost to this senseless gun violence. 

Biden Administration Declares Strong Support for Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Protesting violence against women at the Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement strongly supporting passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) with 182 co-sponsors.

The statement comes as news reports circulate about a Georgia man who murdered 8 women in a shooting spree in Atlanta, March 16.

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that was first enacted in 1994 and that was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013.  VAWA has transformed the Nation’s response to violence against women and has brought critically needed resources to States, Territories, Tribes, and local communities to help prevent and improve the response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Strengthening and renewing VAWA, however, is long overdue.  As many as 1 in 3 women are subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at some point in their lives, and the rate is even higher for women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people.  VAWA reauthorization is more urgent now than ever, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States. 
 
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 continues to build upon previous VAWA authorizations, and includes new provisions to enhance efforts and address identified gaps and barriers.  H.R. 1620 would authorize funding for VAWA grant programs for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 and would continue to invest in, and expand, strategies that advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for victims and survivors.  The bill would maintain established and effective protections and programs, while also addressing persistent gaps through more holistic approaches in order to address the complex realities and intersecting issues that impact survivors’ lives.

H.R. 1620 would reauthorize grant programs that support the development of a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  It would expand the categories for which funds may be used in various grant programs to provide additional pathways to safety and support for survivors.  Further, the bill seeks to reduce intimate partner homicides committed with firearms by expanding protections for victims and enhancing support for law enforcement agencies and courts to improve the enforcement of court orders.  The bill would also improve the health care system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
 
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and their children.  Without the ability to access affordable housing, a victim must often times choose between becoming homeless or remaining in an abusive situation.  H.R. 1620 includes provisions that would provide important housing protections to allow survivors in federally assisted housing to relocate to safe housing with victim relocation vouchers, maintain their housing after a perpetrator leaves, or terminate a lease early.  The bill also would expand economic security protections for survivors.  
 
H.R. 1620 would authorize increased funding to enhance culturally specific services for victims. This would include developing culturally-relevant training and education programs for health care professionals that are designed to be inclusive of the experiences of all individuals, including people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.  It would also include training on equity and anti-racism approaches to health services delivery, disparities in access to health care services and prevention resources, and current and historic systemic racism in health care services.
 
The Rape Prevention & Education (RPE) formula grants, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorize essential funding to States and Territories to support rape prevention and education programs conducted by rape crisis centers, sexual assault coalitions, and other public and private nonprofit entities.  H.R. 1620 would authorize higher levels of funding for prevention through the RPE program grants, as well as grant programs focused on prevention efforts with youth administered through the Department of Justice.  It also would expand grants to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.  H.R. 1620 would also support institutions of higher education in developing and disseminating comprehensive prevention education for all students and expanding training for school-based personnel and campus health centers to meet the needs of young victims of sexual violence.
 
The Administration strongly supports measures in H.R. 1620 that would expand access to justice for Native American victims.  Native women are victimized at rates higher than any other population in the United States, and the vast majority of Native victims report being victimized by a non-native individual.  This bill would build on the effectiveness of special criminal jurisdiction for domestic violence cases that was included in prior VAWA reauthorization laws and address other significant co-occurring crimes.  It recognizes tribal jurisdiction that will allow participating Tribes to hold accountable non-native perpetrators of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence against child victims, stalking, elder abuse, and assault against law enforcement officers when they commit such crimes on tribal territory.
 
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 recognizes the need to provide protection and services to all victims of abuse and includes proposals to strengthen existing policies that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year.  The Administration urges swift passage of this legislation.

On Anniversary of Parkland Massacre, Biden Calls on Congress to Pass Gun Reform

March for Our Lives, Washington DC , March 24, 2018, organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On the anniversary of the massacre, President Joe Biden called on Congress to enact sensible gun reform (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the anniversary of Parkland shooting, February 14, President Joe Biden, saying “This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer,”  issued a demand that Congress enact “commonsense gun reform” including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. “We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.”

Here is President Biden’s statement:

Three years ago today, a lone gunman took the lives of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In seconds, the lives of dozens of families, and the life of an American community, were changed forever.
 
For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They’ve missed out on the experience of sending their children off to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they’ve had to bury pieces of their soul deep within the Earth. Like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be okay.
 
These families are not alone. In big cities and small towns. In schools and shopping malls. In churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. In movie theaters and concert halls. On city street corners that will never get a mention on the evening news. All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. And in this season of so much loss, last year’s historic increase in homicides across America, including the gun violence disproportionately devastating Black and Brown individuals in our cities, has added to the number of empty seats at our kitchen tables. Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
 
Over these three years, the Parkland families have taught all of us something profound. Time and again, they have showed us how we can turn our grief into purpose – to march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and durable movement for change.
 
The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will.
 
This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.

See also: Biden Must Put Gun Violence Prevention on To-Do List for First 100 Days

Women’s Marches Are Opening Salvo to 2020 Election

Raring to Rise & Roar, Women’s March on New York City, Jan. 18, 2020 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.

And the Supreme Court and all the courts now dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration were manifest.

A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and his henchmen and his enablers.

And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.

(See also: Women’s March 2020: Turnout is Crucial to Rev Up Momentum for 2020 Election)

Here are highlights from the 2020 Women’s March on New York City:

“A Woman’s Place is in the White House.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“ERA Now!” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Together We Fight For All”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Stop the War on Womens Rights; Vote Them Out Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“These Boobs Are Made for Marching.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote Vote Vote Vote” “When women’s Bodies Are More Regulated Than Guns”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Made in ‘Gina” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“So Many Lies So Little Sign Space” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Not My Dictator.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gays Against Guns. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dump Trump. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women Build march for Pay Equity. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“It’s Time to Ovary Act”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blue Wave. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“God Save America.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Pregnant and ProChoice”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Shame.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WasherWomen Vote. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote. I’m Tired of Still Marching” during centennial year of Women’s Suffrage. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“2020 Vision.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Outlines Plan to End America’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the latest 2020 Democratic Candidate to come out with a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence, once again proving that there is no shortage of pragmatic plans to solve the most intransient, important issues we face as a nation and a world – what has been lacking is political will. Have you seen a plan from Donald Trump? Me neither.Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

This is from the Biden 2020 campaign:

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end America’s gun violence epidemic ahead of his participation in the Giffords and March for Our Lives presidential gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

While Democratic leaders and the American public have reached an undeniable and broad consensus about what needs to be done to address the gun violence epidemic that has engulfed communities across America, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and the NRA refuse to take any sensible action. As president, Biden will not let anyone hold our nation’s children, families, and communities hostage to the scourge of gun violence Americans face every day. 

Biden is introducing a bold, comprehensive plan that not only calls for common sense gun safety reform, but outlines how he is going to get it done for the American people. Biden’s plan calls for universal background checks, closing loopholes in the background check system, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to establish red flag law, holding gun manufacturers accountable, and investing in public health research regarding the causes and prevention of gun violence.

As a leader who has championed common sense gun safety laws both as a United States Senator and Vice President, Biden has unmatched substantive expertise on addressing gun violence. He has been pushing the conversation on ending gun violence for at least 25 years. And he has taken on the NRA twice and won – first with the Brady Bill, which established firearms background check system, and then securing the passage of a ten-year ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines together with Senator Dianne Feinstein. 

Based on his expertise and experience on this issue, Biden’s plan also includes three standout sections that further demonstrate how he will end the gun violence epidemic:

Addressing the daily combination of guns and domestic violence;

Tackling urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions; and

Supporting survivors of violence and their communities.

On the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, Vice President Biden released a statement decrying Donald Trump’s continued inaction on sensible gun reform and his capitulation to the NRA. Biden also declared, “We can beat the NRA; we can get those weapons of war off our streets; and we can make sure our children don’t grow up in constant fear. Real leadership — moral leadership — can get these reforms done.”

Today’s plan follows Biden for President’s release of “Purpose,” a video of gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg who credits Biden for helping inspire his mission as a gun safety advocate after his 14-year-old daughter was killed in Parkland, Florida. 



FACT SHEET: 
THE BIDEN PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Vice President Joe Biden presents a plan to address gun violence as a public health epidemic. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Joe Biden knows that gun violence is a public health epidemic. Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Others are the result of daily acts of gun violence or suicides that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to the families and communities left behind.

Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won – twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.
 
Joe Biden also knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with developing both legislative proposals and executive actions to make our communities safer. As a result of this effort, the Obama-Biden Administration took more than two dozen actions, including narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” increasing the number of records in the background check system, and expanding funding for mental health services.
 
It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will:
 
Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
 
Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
 

Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.

Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.

Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.

Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.

Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically, he will:

Require background checks for all gun sales. Today, an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by executive action alone.

Close other loopholes in the federal background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:

Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald Trump took as president was to reverse this rule. President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.

Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will enact legislation prohibiting an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days. Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.

Close the “fugitive from justice” loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.

End the online sale of firearms and ammunitions. Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. Federal law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example, because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.

Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws. Extreme risk laws, also called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.

Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun.

Adequately fund the background check system. President Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS system.


ADDRESSING THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a factor of five if a gun is nearby. Half of mass shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: 86% of children killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or family violence.
 
Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as president.
 
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which Leader McConnell refuses to bring to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. But if McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is modeled after existing laws in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports enacting the proposal to prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm before their hearing.
 
In addition, President Biden will:

Establish a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As President, Joe Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings, extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of harassment and response, and best practices.

Expand the use of evidence-based lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results. Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of implementing these programs more widely.



Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility of ensuring their weapons are used safely.

Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.

Hold adults accountable for giving minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession of the firearm.

Require gun owners to safely store their weapons. Biden will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their homes.

Empower law enforcement to effectively enforce our gun laws.

Prioritize prosecution of straw purchasers. “Straw purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.

Notify law enforcement when a potential firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.

Require firearms owners to report if their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact legislation to make this the law of the land.

Stop “ghost guns.” One way people who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.

Reform, fund, and empower the U.S. Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal riders that get in the way of that work.

Direct the ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.


TACKLE URBAN GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS

Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be optimistic. There are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration. For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions have reduced homicides by as much as 60%Hospital-Based Violence Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.



Dedicate the brightest scientific minds to solving the gun violence public health epidemic. In 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum clarifying that a longstanding appropriations rider that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal scientific agencies from using federal dollars to “advocate or promote gun control” does not prohibit those agencies from researching the causes and prevention of gun violence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsequently embarked on funding some of this research, though Republican leadership in Congress refused to appropriate any funds to the CDC for this work. Biden will call for Congress to appropriate $50 million to accelerate this research at the CDC and NIH.
 
Prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to discharge firearms. We should be passing rational gun laws, not requiring educators who already have too much on their plates to also protect the safety of their students. Biden supports barring states from using federal dollars to arm or train educators to discharge firearms.
 
Address the epidemic of suicides by firearms. Biden believes any plan to address the gun violence epidemic must address suicides by firearms, which account for 6 in 10 gun-related deaths but are often left out of the conversation. Many of the policies noted above – including safe storage requirements and extreme risk protection orders – will have a serious impact on efforts to reduce gun violence. But there’s so much more we need to do to support people experiencing suicidal ideation. In the months ahead, Biden will put forward a comprehensive plan to improve access to mental health services.
 


SUPPORTING SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
 
Violence causes ripples of trauma throughout our communities, impacting not just the victims of violence but also their communities and first responders. Fear of school shootings is having a noticeable impact on the mental health of Gen Z. Intimate partner violence is linked to depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health challenges among survivors. And, this trauma can be intergenerational. Science now shows that young children who witness violence – including in their home – literally alters the parts of their brains that affect “reasoning, planning, and behavioral control.”
 
We need to reduce violence to prevent trauma from happening in the first place. But we also must treat the resulting trauma as a serious crisis in its own right.
 
As president, Biden will:

Make federal programs more trauma-informed. During his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Cabinet to conduct a review of all federal programs that directly serve communities likely to experience violence and identify reforms to make sure those programs effectively address resulting trauma. Biden will then invest significant federal funds in expanding and improving the federal government’s support for trauma-informed and culturally responsive care.

Create a network of trauma care centers. Biden will bring together offices within the federal government to establish specialized trauma care centers for survivors of violence, with a special focus on survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Domestic violence services are focused on meeting the emergency needs of survivors, including safety planning and crisis intervention. As a result, frontline providers lack the resources they need to offer therapeutic services to help survivors heal from trauma. These trauma care centers will be flexible in meeting the needs of communities, and could be housed at rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, universities, and existing mental health centers.

Train health care and other service providers in trauma-centered care. To prevent revictimization and secondary trauma, Biden will align training efforts throughout relevant federal programs to include a focus on understanding the traumatic effects of violence, providing appropriate care to avoid furthering the trauma, linking survivors with evidence-based trauma therapies, and reducing myths about domestic and sexual violence. This will be accomplished through agency directives, policy guidance, and special conditions for grantees and contractors.

For more on Vice President Biden’s plan, see HERE.