Gun Safety Bills to Require Microstamping Technology for All Semi-Automatic Pistols, Expand Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, Improve Oversight and Regulation of Gun Dealers, Require a License to Purchase or Possess a Semi-automatic Rifle, and Other Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Measures
Even as President Joe Biden was appealing to Congress to finally act to end the scourge of gun violence that is taking more than 100 lives each day and has become the leading cause of death for children, New York State was passing a package of gun safety bills to further strengthen the state’s already stiff gun control laws. The action came just days after an 18-year old white supremacist, armed with an AR 15 assault weapon murdered 10 in a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, followed closely by the massacre at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school, and then another at a Tulsa hospital. Meanwhile, the state awaits the radical rightwing Supreme Court majority’s decision on a case deciding whether New York can give criteria for someone to have a gun permit. Governor Kathy Hochul has said she would call the state Legislature back into session to adopt new gun laws should that happen.
Immediately following the State Legislature’s adoption of its package of gun laws, Governor Hochul stated, “Just last night a deadly semiautomatic weapon was once again used to mercilessly kill innocent civilians, this time at a medical facility in Oklahoma. It was a scene all too familiar in this country, one we’ve seen everywhere from Uvalde, to Sandy Hook, to Parkland, to my hometown of Buffalo. We cannot keep living like this.
“We cannot be satisfied by New York’s already tough gun laws. Shooting after shooting makes it clear that they must be even stronger to keep New Yorkers safe. This comprehensive package will close loopholes, give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent easy access to guns, and stop the sale of dangerous weapons to 18-year-olds. I am grateful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and our partners in the legislature, and I look forward to signing these bills into law.
“Even as we take action to protect New Yorkers, we recognize that this is a nationwide problem. I once again urge Congress to seize this moment and pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. We have no time to waste.”
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), a statewide advocacy organization, applauded the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for passing a package of 10 gun safety bills this week. The bills, which are expected to be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, will require microstamping technology for all semi-automatic pistols, expand New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, improve oversight and regulation of gun dealers, require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle, and other measures that will prevent gun violence and mass shootings.
The passage of this gun bill package comes on the heels of a scourge of gun violence and mass shootings during April and May across the state and country, including in Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, and as recently as last night, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among numerous other gun violence incidents.
Rebecca Fischer, NYAGV Executive Director said, “Faced with a surging gun violence crisis, the New York State Legislature has once again made it a priority this week to protect New Yorkers by passing a strong, life-saving slate of gun violence prevention bills. These measures will help keep guns away from people in crisis to prevent mass shootings, suicide and other gun violence, will require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle anywhere in this state, and will provide law enforcement with microstamping tracing technology to stop gun trafficking and hold rogue gun dealers accountable. As New Yorkers and Americans, we should not have to fear gun violence on a daily basis in our neighborhoods or homes, in our subways, our supermarkets, our schools, our houses of worship, our hospitals, or anywhere else. While Congress continues to stall on meaningful national gun reform, we are grateful to have outstanding gun violence prevention champions leading our state government who are committed to keeping our children and all New Yorkers safe.”
A.7926-A (Rosenthal, L)/S.4116-A (Hoylman): Requires DCJS to certify or decline to certify that microstamping-enabled pistols are technologically viable and if certified as viable, to establish programs and processes for the implementation of such technology; and, establishes the crime of the unlawful sale of a non-microstamping-enabled firearm.
A.1023-A (Paulin)/S.4970-A (Kavanagh): Requires all state and local law enforcement agencies to report seized or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse; participate in ATFs collective data sharing program; test-fire seized or recovered guns for national integrated Ballistic Information Network; and enter the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun into the national crime information center. Also requires gun dealers to implement a security plan for securing firearms, rifles and shotguns; prohibit persons under eighteen and not accompanied by a parent from the certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises; provide training to all employees on the conduct of firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases; adhere to record keeping requirements; and require the State police to conduct inspections of gun dealers every three years.
A. 10502 (Cahill)/S. 9113-A (Skoufis): Expands who may file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition to include health care practitioners who have examined the individual within the last six months; requires police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions upon credible information that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to himself, herself or others; requires the State Police and the Municipal Police Training Council to create and disseminate policies and procedures to identify when an ERPO petition may be warranted; amends the firearm licensing statute to make it clear that when an individual has been reported by a mental health practitioner and a county mental health commissioner has concurred with such practitioner that the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to them self or others, such report is considered in determining whether or not to issue a firearm license to the individual; and, expands the mental health practitioners who can make such reports.
A.10501 (Meeks)/S. 9465 (Bailey): Creates a new Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism in the Attorney General’s office to study and investigate the role of social media companies in promoting and facilitating violent extremism and domestic terrorism online.
A10503 (Jackson)/S. 9458 (Thomas): Requires that an individual obtain a license prior purchasing a semiautomatic rifle. This is prospective and applies to purchases made on and after the effective date.
A.6716-A (Wallace)/S89-B (Kaminsky): Creates the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm.
A7865-A (Fahy)/ S.4511-A (Kaplan): Requires social media networks in New York to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platform and maintain easily accessible mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct on those platforms
A.10428-A (People-Stokes)/S.9229-A (Hoylman): Eliminates the grandfathering of large capacity ammunition feeding devices that were lawfully possessed prior to the enactment of the Safe Act or manufactured prior to 1994.
A. 10497 (Jacobson)/S.9407-B (Kavanagh): Makes unlawful the purchase and sale of body vests for anyone who is not engaged in an eligible profession. Eligible professions include law enforcement officers and other professions designated by the Department of State in consultation with other agencies. Also requires that any sale of a body vest be done in person.
A. 10504 (Burgos)/S. 9456 (Sepulveda): Expands the definition of a “firearm” to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive. This is intended to capture firearms that have been modified to be shot from an arm brace, which are evading our current definitions of firearms and rifles.
After a spate of mass shootings that made the headlines – Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation to appeal, to demand Congress act to reduce America’s unique public health epidemic of gun violence. Even as he spoke, there were additional mass shootings – more than one each and every day. More than 100 Americans are killed each day from gun violence – just since 1968, almost twice the number, nearly 2 million, than have died in all of America’s wars going back to the Revolution, 1 million. “My fellow Americans, enough. Enough. It’s time for each of us to do our part. It’s time to act,” he said, offering an agenda, a to-do list of what has to be done to at least reduce the carnage.
Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:
On Memorial Day this past Monday, Jill and I visited Arlington National Cemetery.
As we entered those hallowed grounds, we saw rows and rows of crosses among the rows of headstones, with other emblems of belief, honoring those who paid the ultimate price on battlefields around the world.
The day before, we visited Uvalde — Uvalde, Texas. In front of Robb Elementary School, we stood before 21 crosses for 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers. On each cross, a name. And nearby, a photo of each victim that Jill and I reached out to touch. Innocent victims, murdered in a classroom that had been turned into a killing field.
Standing there in that small town, like so many other communities across America, I couldn’t help but think there are too many other schools, too many other everyday places that have become killing fields, battlefields here in America.
We stood at such a place just 12 days before, across from a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, memorializing 10 fellow Americans — a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling — gone forever.
At both places, we spent hours with hundreds of family members who were broken and whose lives will never be the same. And they had one message for all of us:
Do something. Just do something. For God’s sake, do something.
After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done.
This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something.
The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.
For so many of you at home, I want to be very clear: This is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s not about vilifying gun owners. In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave. I respect the culture and the tradition and the concerns of lawful gun owners.
At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute. It was Justice Scalia who wrote, and I quote, “Like most rights, the right…” — Second Amendment — the rights granted by the Second Amendment are “not unlimited.” Not unlimited. It never has been.
There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America. For example, machine guns have been federally regulated for nearly 90 years. And this is still a free country.
This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights. It’s about protecting children. It’s about protecting families. It’s about protecting whole communities. It’s about protecting our freedoms to go to school, to a grocery store, and to a church without being shot and killed.
According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. The number one killer. More than car accidents. More than cancer.
Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. Think about that: more kids than on-duty cops killed by guns, more kids than soldiers killed by guns.
For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say “enough”? Enough.
I know that we can’t prevent every tragedy. But here’s what I believe we have to do. Here’s what the overwhelming majority of the American people believe we must do. Here’s what the families in Buffalo and Uvalde, in Texas, told us we must do.
We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21.
Strengthen background checks.
Enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws.
Repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability.
Address the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence and as a consequence of that violence.
These are rational, commonsense measures. And here’s what it all means. It all means this:
We should reinstate the assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines that we passed in 1994 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of law enforcement. Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, like AK-47s and AR-15s.
And in the 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down. But after Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. Those are the facts.
A few years ago, the family of the inventor of the AR-15 said he would have been horrified to know that its design was being used to slaughter children and other innocent lives instead of being used as a military weapon on the battlefields, as it was designed — that’s what it was designed for.
We should limit how many rounds a weapon can hold. Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?
The damage was so devastating in Uvalde, parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children — 9- and 10-year-old children.
We should expand background checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under restraining orders.
Stronger background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.
I also believe we should have safe storage laws and personal liability for not locking up your gun.
The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns that were too easy to access. That’s how he got the weapons — the weapon he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 first graders.
If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it — every responsible gun owner agrees — to make sure no one else can have access to it, to lock it up, to have trigger locks. And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.
We should also have national red-flag laws so that a parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for a court that a child, a student, a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves or to others.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws. The Delaware law is named after my son, Attorney General Beau Biden.
Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 — 13 dead and more than 30 injured.
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 2018 — 17 dead, 17 injured.
In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds.
Red-flag laws could have stopped both these shooters.
In Uvalde, the shooter was 17 when he asked his sister to buy him an assault weapon, knowing he’d be denied because he was too young to purchase one himself. She refused.
But as soon as he turned 18, he purchased two assault weapons for himself. Because in Texas, you can be 18 years old and buy an assault weapon even though you can’t buy a pistol in Texas until you’re 21.
If we can’t ban assault weapons, as we should, we must at least raise the age to be able to purchase one to 21.
Look, I know some folks will say, “18-year-olds can serve in the military and fire those weapons.” But that’s with training and supervision by the best-trained experts in the world. Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference.
We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons. They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity.
Imagine — imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued — where we’d be today. The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous. It must end.
And let there be no mistake about the psychological trauma that gun violence leaves behind.
Imagine being that little girl — that brave little girl in Uvalde who smeared the blood off her murdered friend’s body onto her own face to lie still among the corpses in her classroom and pretend she was dead in order to stay alive. Imagine — imagine what it would it be like for her to walk down the hallway of any school again.
Imagine what it’s like for children who experience this kind of trauma every day in school, in the streets, in communities all across America.
Imagine what it is like for so many parents to hug their children goodbye in the morning, not sure whether they’ll come back home.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t have to imagine that at all.
Even before the pandemic, young people were already hurting. There’s a serious youth mental health crisis in this country, and we have to do something about it.
That’s why mental health is at the heart of my Unity Agenda that I laid out in the State of the Union Address this year.
We must provide more school counselors, more school nurses, more mental health services for students and for teachers, more people volunteering as mentors to help young people succeed, more privacy protection and resources to keep kids safe from the harms of social media.
This Unity Agenda won’t fully heal the wounded souls, but it will help. It matters.
I just told you what I’d do. The question now is: What will the Congress do?
The House of Representatives has already passed key measures we need. Expanding background checks to cover nearly all gun sales, including at gun shows and online sales. Getting rid of the loophole that allows a gun sale to go through after three business days even if the background check has not been completed.
And the House is planning even more action next week. Safe storage requirements. The banning of high-capacity magazines. Raising the age to buy an assault weapon to 21. Federal red-flag law. Codifying my ban on ghost guns that don’t have serial numbers and can’t be traced. And tougher laws to prevent gun trafficking and straw purchases.
This time, we have to take the time to do something. And this time, it’s time for the Senate to do something.
But, as we know, in order to get anything done in the Senate, we need a minimum of 10 Republican senators.
I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way. But my God, the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.
We can’t fail the American people again.
Since Uvalde, just over a week ago, there have been 20 other mass shootings in America, each with four or more people killed or injured, including yesterday at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A shooter deliberately targeted a surgeon using an assault weapon he bought just a few hours before his rampage that left the surgeon, another doctor, a receptionist, and a patient dead, and many more injured.
That doesn’t countthe carnage we see every single day that doesn’t make the headlines.
I’ve been in this fight for a long time. I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up. And if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either. I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.
Enough. Enough. Enough.
Over the next 17 days, the families in Uvalde will continue burying their dead.
It will take that long in part because it’s a town where everyone knows everyone, and day by day they will honor each one they lost.
Jill and I met with the owner and staff of the funeral home that is being strong — strong, strong, strong — to take care of their own.
And the people of Uvalde mourn. As they do over the next 17 days, what will we be doing as a nation?
Jill and I met with the sister of the teacher who was murdered and whose husband died of a heart attack two days later, leaving behind four beautiful, orphaned children — and all now orphaned. The sister asked us: What could she say? What could she tell her nieces and nephews?
It was one of the most heartbreaking moments that I can remember. All I could think to say was — I told her to hold them tight. Hold them tight.
After visiting the school, we attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with Father Eddie.
In the pews, families and friends held each other tightly. As Archbishop Gustavo spoke, he asked the children in attendance to come up on the altar and sit on the altar with him as he spoke.
There wasn’t enough room, so a mom and her young son sat next to Jill and me in the first pew. And as we left the church, a grandmother who had just lost her granddaughter passed me a handwritten letter.
It read, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation. Come up with a solution and fix what’s broken and make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.” End of quote.
My fellow Americans, enough. Enough. It’s time for each of us to do our part. It’s time to act.
For the children we’ve lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let’s hear the call and the cry. Let’s meet the moment. Let us finally do something.
God bless the families who are hurting. God bless you all.
From a hymn based on the 91st Psalm sung in my church:
May He raise you up on eagle’s wings and bear you on the breath of dawn make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of His hand.
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.
“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.
“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 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
“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.
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. “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.
“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, 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.”
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.”
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.