Joe Biden unveils executive actions for gun control in the US

The actions come in the wake of two mass shootings and pressure on legislators to pass more lasting laws.

President Joe Biden has unveiled a series of executive actions addressing gun violence in his first major action on gun control since taking office.

Biden on Thursday will 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, the White House said in a statement.

The moves come in the wake of two mass shootings in March, events that have become common occurrences in the US.

“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,” the White House said in a statement, referencing the March 22 shooting Colorado and the March 16 shooting in Georgia.

The White House also again called for Congress to pass longer-lasting legislation to close loopholes in gun background checks, ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and to create so-called “Red flag” laws, which permit police or family to petition courts to temporarily remove firearms from an individual believed to present a danger.

While the House of Representatives 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 formally announce the new actions at a news conference with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday. Most of the actions will be undertaken by the Justice Department.

According to the White House, the Justice Department will propose a rule within a month to help stop the distribution of so-called “ghost guns” – firearms usually sold in unassembled kits, as well as a rule that will make it clearer what modifications “effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle”. The shooter in Colorado used a pistol with an arm brace, which “can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable”, according to the White House.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will also publish model “red flag” legislation for states, which would allow people to petition courts to temporarily block gun ownership for anyone who is a threat to themselves or others.  It will addition begin publishing an annual report on firearm trafficking.

The White House added the administration will invest in “evidence-based community violence interventions”.

Shannon Watts, the found of Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, an arm of the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg founded Everytown for Gun Safety, called the executive orders “a huge victory for the gun safety movement”.

“For years, survivors and advocates, including @MomsDemand volunteers, took on NRA-backed lawmakers who refused to act. Today, President Biden made it clear those days are over,” she tweeted.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in an attack that killed five during a constituent meeting in Arizona in 2011, also praised the executive actions in a statement.

“Days like today are why we fought so hard to bring a gun safety champion to the White House,” said Giffords, who founded the gun violence prevention organisation Giffords in the wake of the shooting. “These executive actions help address a crisis that devastates communities across the country on a daily basis. Today, we have hope that a brighter future is in store.”

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