President Joe Biden’s recent plan to take executive action to bring some common sense to gun regulations stands as a small but significant start to attacking the scourge of gun violence.
Tracking those who would make so-called “ghost guns” with kits bought online is part of the plan. The guns have no serial numbers and cannot be easily tracked. A proposed Justice Department rule would classify those kits as “firearms” and then they would be subject to the Gun Control Act, which would require serial numbers and background checks for buyers.
Even the Trump Justice Department had been working on a similar rule change to define lower receivers, an essential part of a semi-automatic rifle, to be defined as a firearm thus also combatting the proliferation of ghost guns and close loopholes in court cases.
Another change calls for modifying the definition of pistols fitted with stabilizing braces, like the one used in the recent shooting rampage in Boulder, Colorado. Such pistols would now be defined as short-barreled rifles and therefore require a federal license to own and be subject to more thorough application process.
The Justice Department will also publish model regulations that would make it easier for states to adopt their own “red flag” laws that allow, through a short court process, guns to be taken from people considered a danger to themselves or others.
Finally, the federal government will, for the first time in 20 years, complete a comprehensive report on gun trafficking. The gun lobby has long opposed almost any information gathering on the subject of trafficking or gun violence itself. Reports like this will doubtless detail the need for universal background checks, already supported by vast majorities of Americans.
The executive actions and proposed rules close obvious loopholes in the laws and bring some sanity to U.S. gun regulations. Biden’s nomination of veteran Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent David Chipman to head that agency will ensure that the plans have strong support and move through the process quickly.
We believe the ATF enforcement division should get a significant budget boost to enforce the gun laws and regulations already on the books.
The gun lobby has held America hostage for many years. Thousands of innocent people have paid the price. Biden can begin to change that.