WASHINGTON – President Biden is expected to unveil a series of executive actions on Thursday to address gun violence, weeks after consecutive mass shootings killed 18 people and brought the issue of gun laws to the forefront for a government addressing multiple crises.
Mr. Biden is also expected to announce his intention to appoint gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, officials said. Since 2015, the agency no longer has a permanent director.
The move comes because Mr. Biden is under pressure to address gun violence, but he has made it clear that it is currently not feasible to push legislation through a blockade from the Republican opposition. Officials reiterated on Wednesday that the proposals the president planned to reveal with Merrick B. Garland, the attorney general, were just a start and that the president would continue to call on Congress to take action.
On Thursday, Justice announced three initiatives to combat gun violence.
One rule would help stop the proliferation of so-called ghost weapons – kits that assemble a rifle from pieces. White House officials wouldn't say whether the government would eventually try to classify ghost weapons as firearms, just that the department was trying to dissuade criminals from purchasing kits with all the components and instructions on how to build one.
A second rule would make it clear that when a device marketed as a stabilizing bracket converts a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that weapon is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The shooter inside the Boulder, Colo., who shot last month, used a gun with an armrest, making it more stable and accurate, officials said.
Finally, the Justice Department will also publish model “red flag” legislation for states. The measure would allow police officers and family members to petition the court to temporarily remove firearms from people who could pose a danger to themselves or others. While Mr. Biden cannot pass national red flag legislation without Congress, officials said the purpose of the directive was to make it easier for states that want to pass it now. The department also plans to release a comprehensive report on the firearms trade, which it hasn't done since 2000.
Officials also said the government would also invest in evidence-based community violence intervention, although they have not provided dollar figures. Nor would they say whether they intended to try to increase the budget for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a move pushed by gun control advocates.
Since Congress is unlikely to pass gun laws, the White House has underlined the importance of executive action as a more realistic starting point for delivering on the promises of Mr Biden's campaign to end gun violence. Susan E. Rice, the director of the Home Policy Council, has served as the administration's focal point for upcoming executive actions.
Still, gun control groups backing Mr Biden's candidacy have criticized the president for not making gun laws a top priority, as he had promised on the campaign trail.
For others, Mr. Biden's decision to go ahead with his ambitious jobs and infrastructure plan – even after two mass shootings – was a more pragmatic approach to a president dealing with several crises and Republican backlash against gun control measures.
The House passed two gun control bills last month, but they're languishing in the Senate in light of the House's 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation, requiring the support of at least 10 Republicans.
On Wednesday, officials viewing Mr. Biden's first steps to curb gun violence stressed that it was just a “first set of actions,” tempering expectations for meatier or more specific initiatives by noting that Mr. Garland was less than has been attorney general for a month. .
“These much-needed executive actions will instantly save lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of the arms control group Moms Demand Action, “and our base army of nearly six million supporters is looking forward to standing behind President Biden as he stands before the Senate. urges to follow his example and act. "