Today, in Monterey Park, California, President Biden announced an Executive Order with the goal of increasing the number of background checks conducted before firearm sales, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation. The Executive Order will also keep more guns out of dangerous hands by increasing the effective use of “red flag” laws, strengthen efforts to hold the gun industry accountable, and accelerate law enforcement efforts to identify and apprehend the shooters menacing our communities. President Biden is also encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors.
President Biden traveled to Monterey Park to grieve with the families and community impacted by the mass shooting that claimed 11 lives and injured nine others in January. Monterey Park is part of a growing list of communities all across the country that are forever changed due to gun violence—not only mass shootings, but also daily acts of gun violence that may not make national headlines.
Last year, President Biden signed into the law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence reduction legislation enacted in nearly 30 years. When celebrating the Act’s passage, he called on Congress to seize the bipartisan momentum and advance additional commonsense steps to reduce gun violence. Again and again, he has called for Congress to act, including by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring background checks for all gun sales, requiring safe storage of firearms, closing the dating violence restraining order loophole, and repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
As he continues to call on Congress to act, President Biden will do everything he can to reduce gun violence and save lives. That is why, over the past two years, President Biden has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president at this point in their presidency.
The President’s new Executive Order to reduce gun violence includes the following additional actions, all of which fall within existing executive authority and outside of the right protected by the Second Amendment:
Keeping guns out of dangerous hands
The Executive Order directs the President’s Cabinet to:
Increase the number of background checks by ensuring that all background checks required by law are conducted before firearm purchases, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation. A large majority of Americans support background checks and agree it’s common sense to check whether someone is a felon or domestic abuser before allowing them to buy a gun. The President will continue to call on Congress to pass universal background check legislation. In the meantime, he is directing the Attorney General to do everything he can to ensure that firearms sellers who do not realize they are required to run background checks under existing law, or who are willfully violating existing law, become compliant with background check requirements. Specifically, the President is directing the Attorney General to move the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation by clarifying, as appropriate, the statutory definition of who is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms, as updated by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This move would mean fewer guns will be sold without background checks, and therefore fewer guns will end up in the hands of felons and domestic abusers. The President is also directing the Attorney General to develop and implement a plan to prevent former federally licensed firearms dealers, whose licenses have been revoked or surrendered, from continuing to engage in the business of dealing in firearms.
Improve public awareness and increase appropriate use of extreme risk protection (“red flag”) orders and safe storage of firearms. 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted red flag laws, allowing trusted community members to petition a court to determine whether an individual is dangerous, and then to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms. However, these laws are only effective if the public knows when and how to use red flag orders. President Biden is directing members of his Cabinet to encourage effective use of extreme risk protection orders, including by partnering with law enforcement, health care providers, educators, and other community leaders. In addition, President Biden is directing members of his Cabinet to expand existing federal campaigns and other efforts to promote safe storage of firearms.
Address the loss or theft of firearms during shipping. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) data indicates an over 250% increase in the number of firearms reported as lost or stolen during shipment between federally licensed firearms dealers, from roughly 1,700 in 2018 to more than 6,100 in 2022. President Biden is directing the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of Justice, to work to reduce the loss or theft of firearms during shipment and to improve reporting of such losses or thefts, including by engaging with carriers and shippers.
Holding the gun industry accountable
The Executive Order directs the President’s Cabinet to:
Provide the public and policymakers with more information regarding federally licensed firearms dealers who are violating the law. Gun dealers violating federal law put us all at risk by increasing the likelihood that firearms will fall into dangerous hands. The President is directing the Attorney General to publicly release, to the fullest extent permissible by law, ATF records from the inspection of firearms dealers cited for violation of federal firearm laws. This information will empower the public and policymakers to better understand the problem, and then improve our laws to hold rogue gun dealers accountable.
Use the Department of Defense’s acquisition of firearms to further firearm and public safety practices. The Department of Defense buys a large number of firearms and other weapons to protect and serve our country. The President is directing the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further firearm and public safety practices through Department of Defense acquisition of firearms, consistent with applicable law.
President Biden is also encouraging the independent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors and how such manufacturers market firearms to all civilians, including through the use of military imagery.
Additional steps to make our communities safer and support communities impacted by gun violence
The Executive Order will direct the President’s Cabinet to:
Help catch shooters by accelerating federal law enforcement’s reporting of ballistics data. The National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) allows federal, state, and local law enforcement to match fired cartridge casings to the guns from which they were fired, making it easier for law enforcement to connect multiple crime scenes and catch shooters. In order to maximize NIBIN’s effectiveness, federal, state, and local law enforcement all have an important role to play in ensuring timely submission of ballistics data to NIBIN. Today, the President is directing all federal law enforcement agencies to issue rigorous requirements regarding NIBIN data submission and use of this tool.
Accelerate and intensify implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). BSCA is the most significant gun safety legislative accomplishment in nearly 30 years, and the Biden-Harris Administration is treating it as such by making the most of every opportunity it provides to reduce gun violence. President Biden is directing each agency responsible for the law’s implementation to send a report to him, within 60 days, on progress toward full implementation of BSCA and additional steps they will take to maximize the benefits of the law, including by increasing public awareness and use of the resources made available by BSCA.
Improve federal support for gun violence survivors, victims and survivors’ families, first responders to gun violence, and communities affected by gun violence. When a hurricane overwhelms a community, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations in order to assess and meet community needs. However, when a mass shooting overwhelms a community, no coordinated U.S. government mechanism exists to meet short- and long-term needs, such as mental health care for grief and trauma, financial assistance (for example, when a family loses the sole breadwinner or when a small business is shut down due to a lengthy shooting investigation), and food (for example, when the Buffalo shooting closed down the only grocery store in the neighborhood). The President is directing members of his Cabinet to develop a proposal for how the federal government can better support communities after a mass shooting, and identify what additional resources or authorities the executive branch would need from Congress to implement this proposal.
Advance congressional efforts to prevent the proliferation of firearms undetectable by metal detectors. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of technology that allows guns to be made with polymers and other materials that are increasingly capable of avoiding detection by metal detectors. President Biden is directing the Attorney General to help Congress modernize and make permanent the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which is currently set to expire in December 2023.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, who had to rejigger 100-year old gun regulation law after the radical rightwing majority on the Supreme Court overturned the law, commented, “Too many families in this country have experienced loss due to gun violence. Too many communities, including my hometown of Buffalo, have been devastated by weapons of war. We have a moral obligation to act — and that’s why New York strengthened our nation-leading gun safety laws, expanding the use of red flag laws to prevent domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals from causing harm to themselves or others.
“President Biden’s new Executive Order brings New York’s approach to a national scale. The Executive Order strengthens rules around individuals with a “red flag” by requiring federally licensed gun dealers to check if an individual is a domestic abuser or convicted felon. It increases federal resources for proven crime-fighting tools, like the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network we are utilizing in Crime Analysis Centers across New York. This EO builds on the major success last year, when President Biden worked closely with Leader Schumer and bipartisan members of Congress to pass the first new gun safety legislation in a generation. This Executive Order is the significant next step our country needed.”
State Police Have Seized 662 Guns in 2022, Represents a 98 Percent Increase Compared with the Same Period in 2021
Ghost Gun Seizures Have Increased 38 Percent Compared with Same Period in 2021
State Police Have Conducted 346 Gun-Tracing Investigations in 2022, Resulting in 70 Investigative Leads Across 22 States
Exhaustive Efforts Coincide with First Drop in New York City Gun Violence in More than Two Years, Shooting Incidents Down 12 percent in New York City Compared with Last Year
Shooting Incidents Down Nearly 7 Percent in 20 Jurisdictions Participating in State Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative
Governor Hochul Continues to Work Closely with the Legislature on New Policy in Response to Supreme Court Concealed Carry Ruling; Extraordinary Session Set for Thursday
Hey you Christo Fascists on the Taliban Court and Republicans in the clutches of the NRA, pretending to run on an anti-crime platform to justify racist injustice! It appears gun control laws actually do save lives – that is, if the federal government weren’t barred by the NRA and gun lobby from collecting data, or allowing physicians, pediatricians to suggest parents store their weapons safely. New York State just released its own data on gun seizures, gun-tracing and gun-related crime that proves a state’s efforts and strategic investments to stem the gun violence epidemic actually work. Not that you actually care, even though you claim to be “pro-life.” Nonsense. Commonsense gun safety laws work (so does women’s reproductive freedom and access to safe health care) work. Here’s the fact sheet:
Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled new data on gun seizures, gun-tracing investigations, and gun-related crime that indicates New York State’s exhaustive efforts and strategic investments to combat the gun violence epidemic are beginning to show signs of progress. The data includes a substantial year-over-year increase in State Police gun and ghost gun seizures—both coinciding with the formation of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns. The Governor also highlighted the first discernible drop in New York City gun crime in more than two years—with a 12 percent reduction in shooting incidents over the last year. Outside of New York City, 20 jurisdictions participating in the State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative have experienced a nearly seven percent drop in shooting incidents compared with last year.
“With substantial state investment in gun violence prevention programs and unprecedented collaboration between law enforcement agencies, we are beginning to see meaningful progress in our exhaustive efforts to eradicate gun violence from our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “We are aggressively ramping up our efforts to get deadly weapons—including ghost guns—off of our streets, and have developed hundreds of investigative leads spanning 22 states—work resulting in the first discernible reduction in gun violence in more than two years. While this is undeniable progress, our work is just getting started. In the wake of the reckless Supreme Court decision to strike down the ‘proper cause’ provision of New York’s concealed carry law, I am convening an extraordinary session of the legislature tomorrow, where we will enact new policy that carefully regulates access to concealed carry permits within the confines of the decision. My staff has been working with the legislature around-the-clock to get this done right. We will stop at nothing to protect New Yorkers.”
“I join with Governor Hochul in calling for common-sense legally sustainable gun laws that will keep New Yorkers safe,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “The Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns is making great progress but more work still needs to be done to ensure guns aren’t falling into the wrong hands, and with the meeting of the Legislature this week we hope to soon have sensible concealed carry laws in place to help protect New Yorkers on public transportation and in businesses.”
Governor Hochul outlined these key highlights during a press conference following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns at the New York State Intelligence Center in East Greenbush. The meeting included law enforcement representatives from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Quebec, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the New York City Police Department. Key highlights include:
Between January and June, State Police seized 662 guns. That represents a 98 percent increase over the same period last year.
Non-NYC state gun seizures (State Police + other non-NYC jurisdictions) are up 94 percent compared with 2020 and 40 percent compared with 2021.
Year to date, State Police have conducted 346 gun-tracing investigations. From these cases, they have forwarded 70 investigative leads to 22 states. These cases are investigations of residents of those states being arrested in New York for illegally possessing and trafficking on firearms.
Ghost gun seizures have increased 1800 percent since 2018, 212 percent since 2020, and 38 percent when compared with the same period last year. Law enforcement statewide have seized 360 ghost guns year-to-date. State Police have seized 65 ghost guns in 2022, four more than were seized in all of 2021.
Data unveiled during today’s announcement shows that improved collaboration between cities, states, and federal partners is beginning to pay dividends, particularly in New York City, which saw the first significant drop in gun-related violence since May 2020. State Police and DOCCS are working closely with the NYPD and other partners through the Gun Violence Strategic Partnership (GVSP) and compared to last year, murders in New York City declined 13 percent and shooting incidents decreased by 12 percent.
Local law enforcement agencies also are making noticeable progress outside of New York City. The State’s GIVE initiative —administered by the Division of Criminal Justice Services—provides state funding to local law enforcement agencies for personnel, equipment, training, and technical assistance. GIVE supports 20 departments in 17 counties that account for more than 80 percent of violent crime in the state outside of New York City. Compared with last year, shooting incidents involving injury are down nearly 6 percent and the number of shooting victims declined by nearly 7 percent across GIVE jurisdictions. This year’s reduction in gun violence comes after significant increases in these jurisdictions in 2020 and 2021, including a 75 percent increase in shootings involving injury from 2019 to 2020. Working with the legislature, Governor Hochul secured $18.2 million in funding for GIVE in the FY 2023 State Budget — the largest state investment in the program since its 2014 inception.
State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said,”Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and continued support of the State Police, we continue to work with law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in New York State, around the northeast, and in Canada, to slow the tide of illegal guns that are finding their way into our communities. Our members are focused and committed to reducing gun violence, and we are encouraged by the progress we have made in recent months.”
Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “The past two years have been extremely challenging for our GIVE partners and the communities they serve. They have seen first-hand the devastation wrought by gun violence but they also know that evidence-based strategies implemented through GIVE are effective in reducing shootings and saving lives. We thank Governor Hochul for her support and investment in this initiative and commend our law enforcement partners for the work they do every day to serve and protect their fellow New Yorkers.”
Governor Hochul is convening an extraordinary session of the legislature on Thursday, June 30 to pass new gun safety legislation in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The decision reversed a 100-year-old legal precedent requiring individuals to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. In response, the administration continues to work closely with the legislature to devise new policy that will strictly and carefully regulate access to concealed carry permits while remaining within the confines of the law.
While the Supreme Court decision has long-term implications, it has no immediate impact on firearm licensing or permitting. This means people cannot immediately legally carry a concealed firearm without obtaining the currently required permits or licenses. As of now, the application process to obtain a license or permit is unchanged. Those wishing to change their permit status to acquire an “unrestricted carry” permit must file an application with their designated local licensing authority. Gun owners must continue to follow current restrictions.
The announcement builds on Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to aggressively attacking the gun violence epidemic in New York State. Earlier this month, the Governor signed a landmark legislative package to immediately strengthen the state’s gun laws and close critical loopholes exposed by shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde. The ten-bill package bans the sale of semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21 by requiring a license, puts restrictions on the purchase of body armor for anyone not engaged in an eligible profession, and strengthens the Red Flag Law.
The FY 2023 State Budget includes $227 million to fund bold initiatives that will strengthen the gun violence prevention efforts of law enforcement and community-based organizations. It includes $13.1 million to expand the use of Community Stabilization Units, $18 million in direct support to local law enforcement for gun violence prevention, $20 million for regional needs in the aftermath of gun violence, and $3 million for the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
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.