On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that increases background checks for gun purchases, promotes more secure firearm storage, and ensures U.S. law enforcement agencies can fully utilize last summer’s bipartisan gun control law.
Biden traveled to Monterey Park, near Los Angeles, where a gunman shot 20 people, killing 11, after a Lunar New Year celebration in January, where he spoke with victims, family, and responders. He also addressed his new executive order.
The President acknowledged that he needed Congress to enact meaningful gun laws and that his authority was limited, but by implementing the order, government agencies are directed to implement existing policies, and the Cabinet will develop a plan for supporting communities whose residents suffer from gun violence.
Additionally, although he cannot mandate states to participate, Biden is requiring that federal law enforcement officials report ballistics data to a clearinghouse for matching shell casings with guns for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
White House Senior Advisor for Domestic Policy Stef Feldman tells The Advocate that Biden asked his staff to do “everything we can” to reduce gun violence to save lives.
“Not only do we address mass shootings, but also everyday gun violence that affects our communities and might not make national headlines, as well as suicide by firearm and accidental shootings,” she says.
Since Biden took office, he has taken more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other president. One such action is a focus on storing firearms safely.
Recently, a six-year-old boy shot his teacher in Virginia after bringing a gun from home to class. This week, a three-year-old girl shot her 4-year-old sister accidentally, killing the older sibling after gaining access to a gun, CNN reported.
“President Biden wants Congress to require gun owners to safely store their firearms,” Feldman says. “That means storing firearms locked and unloaded.”
Another major problem is the ubiquity of so-called “ghost guns” that can be ordered and assembled or even printed that cannot be traced and require no background check.
Feldman says that Biden is also focused on how ghost guns are regulated.
“The president believes if you make a gun from home, you should be required to pass a background check and that you should be required to put a serial number on that firearm, which means that if police find that gun out of crime scene, they can trace it back to you,” she says.
She notes that this is an example of where Biden has done what he can with existing authority, which is last year, the Justice Department issued a final rule, making clear that if you buy a kit that allows you to assemble a ghost gun, it’s considered a firearm.
“Therefore, the seller needs to treat it as such, and if the seller is engaged in the business of selling those, they are going to have to run a background check,” she says.
Feldman says Biden is trying to connect with as many people as possible, so he went to Monterey Park to grieve with that community.
“The president, throughout the past two years, has found himself time and time again, going to a community and grieving with them, helping them through the trauma of being impacted by gun violence,” she says.
She notes that throughout his life, Biden has learned to sympathize with and understand the pain of grieving people.
“[It’s] something that he really connects with as someone who hasn’t lost loved ones to gun violence but has lost loved ones, has lost children, and something he really connects with people over in a way that I think that few people can.”