President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order aimed at increasing the number of background checks for purchasing guns, promoting better and more secure firearms storage, and ensuring that U.S. law enforcement agencies are fully utilizing a bipartisan gun control law passed last summer. The President is expected to unveil these efforts during a speech in Monterey Park, California.
Biden’s efforts to curb gun violence have only grown stronger in recent months, with the President regularly calling for the ban of so-called assault weapons in his speeches. Democrats did not take such a vocal anti-gun stance during the Obama administration, when Biden served as Vice President. However, Biden has been emboldened by the midterm elections, and his aides say he will continue to push for strong changes as he moves closer to a 2024 run.
Biden’s power is limited to working within the bounds of bipartisan legislation passed by Congress last summer, known as the Safer Communities Act. This law is viewed by gun control advocates as a good start, but one that does not go far enough. After the law was signed, there were 11 more mass shootings, according to a database of mass killings since 2006 maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University.
The plan will call on Attorney General Merrick Garland to shore up the rules for federally licensed gun dealers so they know they are required to conduct background checks as part of the license. Additionally, Biden is mandating better reporting of ballistics data from federal law enforcement for a clearinghouse that allows federal, state, and local law enforcement to match shell casings to guns. However, local and state law enforcement agencies are not required to report ballistics data, and many do not, making the clearinghouse less effective.
The President is also asking the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market to minors and use military images to market to the general public. Moreover, he will direct his Cabinet to ensure that law enforcement agencies understand the benefits of the new law, particularly around red-flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders. These laws are intended to temporarily remove guns from people with potentially violent behavior and prevent them from hurting themselves or others.
In addition to the executive order, the Justice Department recently sent out more than $200 million to help states and the District of Columbia administer red-flag laws and other crisis-intervention programs.