After frustrating many supporters with his lack of action on a key campaign promise, it looks like President Biden on Thursday will reveal parts of his plan to address America’s gun violence problem.
This comes as recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and California have reignited the debate over guns in the U.S. Sources tell Politico that Biden is expected to announce several executive orders, including one that requires background checks for buyers of homemade or makeshift firearms that don’t have serial numbers. These are known as “ghost guns.”
Specifics of the other actions were not given, but gun reform activists believe the president could announce regulations on concealed assault-style firearms, like the one used in the Boulder, Colorado shooting in which 10 people were killed. He could also unveil prohibitions on gun purchases for anyone who’s been convicted of domestic violence, and also federal guidelines storing guns safely at home.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to join Biden for Thursday’s announcement, and there is speculation the president will also reveal his nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive. Whoever ends up running point at that agency will be heavily involved in putting Biden’s executive orders into play.
We won’t know until tomorrow how the gun reform advocates will feel about these steps. But it’s clear they’ve been disappointed that it has taken nearly three months since he took office for Biden to take action. That disappointment was exacerbated when, after the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, the White House prioritized the infrastructure bill over a gun reform bill. A recent statement from the administration suggested they recognize the need to address the issue.
While executive orders are a start, they don’t have lasting power beyond the current administration. Activists are pushing for actual legislation to curb gun violence and they will no doubt be expecting President Biden to discuss his strategy for getting gun legislation through the 50-50 Senate. That is a steep hill to climb, for certain, but many who voted for him expect him to start climbing it.
Igor Volsky, executive director of the advocacy group Guns Down America, praised the White House for including $5 billion in gun violence prevention money in the infrastructure bill.
But Volsky also reminded Mr. Biden he promised a much bolder action plan against guns.
“The president didn’t just run on executive actions when it comes to gun violence. He promised to put forward a robust comprehensive plan for reducing gun violence. Given the violence he inherited, we expect him to live up at the promise.”