Following the sudden surge of gun violence in the United States, the Biden-Harris administration announced on Thursday six executive actions the President has signed on gun control as well as legislative proposals to address the "gun violence public health epidemic." In a Rose Garden speech, Biden was adamant that his administrative actions would not infringe upon American citizen's Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
Biden made no mention of the recent discovery that in 2018 his son Hunter Biden, in the admitted throes of addiction to crack cocaine, lied on the form 4473 when answering the question, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" The president neither mentions the alleged cover-up by the Secret Service over his elite son's blunder nor the valid argument that the prevailing laws intended to prevent gun violence are not enforced.
In his announcement, Biden called allegations that his actions will impinge on Second Amendment Rights "phony arguments," noting that "no amendment to the Constitution is absolute... So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we're recommending are contrary to the Constitution." VP Harris, who spoke briefly before Biden, said lawmakers had waited too long to address the problem, noting that "people on both sides of the aisle want action - real people on both sides of the aisle want action. So all that is left is the will and the courage to act."
Biden spent time talking about shootings in the U.S. of late, suggesting some of them have been racially motivated. Biden declared he is committed to reducing all forms of gun violence — community violence, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide by firearm. Certain to face opposition from many constitutionally-driven states, Biden indicated he would not wait for Congress to take action on legislation currently making its way through the Capitol. Noting that it is within his authority to go ahead and implement gun control actions to "save lives," as well as saying he asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and his team to identify immediate, concrete actions that he could take now without having to go through Congress.
The fact sheet of the Biden-Harris Administration's initial actions to address the Gun Violence Public Health Epidemic are as follows:
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. Read more about these agency actions here.
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, state, 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 firearm 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.
A talking point in Biden's speech on Thursday was that "the only industry in America — a billion-dollar industry — that can’t be sued — has exempt from being sued — are gun manufacturers." However, this statement is misleading because it is widely known that vaccine manufacturers are exempt from being sued according to 42 U.S. Code § 300aa–22, which states:
"No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings."
This is worth pointing out, as our nation and our entire world are in the midst of a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19. In the U.S., the only recourse for vaccine injury is through The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.