Biden to Issue Gun Control EOs

AP (“Biden to unveil actions on guns, including new ATF boss“):

President Joe Biden will unveil a series of executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence on Thursday, delivering his first major action on gun control since taking office. 

He’ll also nominate David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to senior Biden administration officials.

Biden has faced increasing pressure to act on gun control after a spate of mass shootings across the U.S. in recent weeks, but the White House has repeatedly emphasized the need for legislative action on guns. While the House passed a background-check bill last month, gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly-divided Senate, where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals. 

Biden will be joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland at the event, and most of the actions will come from the Justice Department.

Biden is expected to announce tighter regulations requiring buyers of so-called “ghost guns” to undergo background checks. The homemade firearms — often assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine — often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check. 

The president’s plans were previewed by a person familiar with the expected actions who was not authorized to publicly discuss them. 

Senior administration officials confirmed that the Justice Department would issue a new proposed rule aimed at reining in ghost guns within 30 days, but offered no details on the content of the rule. 

The Justice Department will also issue a proposed rule within 60 days tightening regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces, like the one used by the Boulder, Colorado, shooter in a massacre last month that left 10 dead. The rule would designate pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, which, under the National Firearms Act, require a federal license to own and are subject to a more thorough application process and a $200 tax.

The Justice Department will also publish model red flag legislation within 60 days, which the administration says will make it easier for states to adopt their own red flag laws. Such laws allow for individuals to petition a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. 

And it will begin to provide more data on firearms trafficking, starting with a new comprehensive report on the issue, which the Biden administration says it hasn’t done in over two decades.

The degree to which he has the authority to do some of these things, notably regulating “ghost guns,” will surely be litigated and it’s not obvious that any of this will do much to dissuade would-be spree killers. But, while mass shootings are almost certainly the impetus for change, they’re not really the main source of gun violence.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Policing, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The relevant Federal law mandates background checks for the purchase and sale of a “firearm”. Arguably these ghost guns do not qualify under this definition because when they are sold they aren’t capable of firing ammunition but require further modification by the buyer.

    If this is the case then regulating these things will require Congress to amend the definition of a firearm in the U.S. Code.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Given: deaths by gun numbers are appalling in the US.

    But I would really have preferred this admin to focus on the post-Trump recovery and shoring up the socisl safety net and healthcare before throwing themselves onto the third rail of gun control.

    This could have been best after a lot of real wins, which would have strengthened midterm election results.

    Imagine the number of people that are now suddenly saying: “See! They ARE coming for our guns! We were right!” … Even if the reality of this Exec Order doesn’t really come after their guns. It is perception, and that will be in every GOP ad now for the next three years.

    (Disclosure: not a gun owner)

  3. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Moderation – no idea why.