Gun Violence Plan Seeks New Ownership Restrictions

April 8, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
President Joe Biden speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced measures Thursday to restrict sales of “ghost guns” and to take firearms away from potentially dangerous persons.

The proposals are part of a larger campaign against gun violence.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

Biden announced his plan one day after a gunman entered the home of a Rock Hill, S.C., family, shooting and killing a doctor, his wife, their two grandchildren and an employee. The gunman, identified as a former professional football player, later shot and killed himself.

The president referred to the South Carolina murders when he said, “Seconds can change your life forever.”

He described a six-point action plan:

  • The Justice Department is assigned to propose a rule to halt sales of “ghost guns,” which refer to gun components that can be ordered online or sold between individuals. The “buy, build, shoot” guns can be assembled in less than an hour. They do not have registration numbers or require background checks.
  • The Justice Department is supposed to develop a rule to make stabilizing braces subject to the National Firearms Act. The federal law requires registration of guns. Stabilizing braces can be attached to handguns to make them as accurate as rifles when the shooters prop them against their shoulders.
  • The Justice Department plans to publish “red flag” legislation that can be used as a model for states. Red flag laws allow family members or police to request court orders to temporarily take away guns from owners who are in crisis and represent a danger to themselves or others. Biden wants Congress to pass a national red flag law rather than the current patchwork of state laws.
  • Biden proposes a $5 billion investment over eight years for community violence intervention programs. One part of the program would offer outreach to states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse violence intervention programs, such as Hospital-Based Violence Interventions.
  • The Justice Department plans to update its annual report on firearms trafficking to reflect the latest threats, such as the proliferation of ghost guns. The report is designed to help states, local, and federal policymakers thwart common channels of firearms trafficking.
  • Biden is nominating David Chipman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He is a 25-year veteran of the agency. The ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015.

Biden gave assurances that his gun control plan would not violate Second Amendment gun ownership rights.

“Everything that’s being proposed today is consistent with the Second Amendment,” he said.

Nevertheless, his plan fell under immediate criticism from the National Rifle Association, an advocacy organization for gun ownership rights.

A tweet from the organization on Wednesday said, “Biden announced multiple extreme gun control actions. These actions could require law-abiding citizens to surrender lawful property, and push states to expand gun confiscation orders.

“Biden also nominated a gun control lobbyist to head [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives]. NRA is ready to fight.”

Some of the NRA’s previous fights ended up as lawsuits before the Supreme Court, which generally overturned overly restrictive gun ownership regulations.

One of them was the 2010 ruling in McDonald v. Chicago, where the Supreme Court said the Second Amendment was incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects gun ownership rights from infringement by state and local governments.

Throughout Biden’s presentation at the White House, he talked about the devastation caused by gun violence.

“Every day in this country, 316 people are shot,” Biden said. 

He added that gun violence in America costs the nation about $280 billion a year in hospital bills, physical therapy, prison costs, loss of productivity and related problems.

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