Crime & Justice

Biden takes executive action on guns

By Lucia Leal

Washington, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden introduced Thursday a set of executive actions designed to curb gun violence in the United States while noting that effectively addressing the problem will require Congress to pass new legislation.

The measures were formulated in the wake of mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado that left a total of 18 people dead.

But the announcement coincided with news from South Carolina about a former professional athlete who fatally shot five people before turning the gun on himself.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic. Let me say it again: Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said during an event at the White House.

He noted that on a typical day, 106 people are killed with firearms in the US.

The president’s ability to deal with the problem through executive action is very limited and a number of gun-control bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives remain stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Republicans.

Republicans and the gun lobby, as represented by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have increasingly taken the position that any attempt to regulate guns impinges on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which establishes a right “to keep and bear arms.”

Biden sought Thursday to head off such objections.

“Nothing – nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment,” he said, going on to add: “But no amendment – no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.”

“From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. From the very beginning that the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons,” the president said.

In that vein, he demanded that Congress restore the prohibition on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines that was in effect during the period 1994-2004.

Lawmakers must also close various “loopholes” in the legislation mandating background checks for gun purchases, the president said.

But if Congress can only manage to pass one new law, it should be legislation to eliminate the firearms industry’s immunity from being sued, Biden said.

Pending movement in Congress, he said, the administration will move forward with action to stop the spread of what are known as “ghost guns” – firearms assembled from a kit – and regulate stabilizing braces that improve the accuracy of a pistol.

The suspect in the killings of 10 people in Boulder, Colorado, appears to have used a stabilizing brace.

“You can go buy the kit. They have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced,” the president said of ghost guns.

Regarding stabilizing braces, Biden said he wants them to be treated the same way as other modifications, such as the addition of silencer, which requires payment of a $200 fee and registration with the Department of Justice.

The president also nominated a new director for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which has been without a permanent head since 2015.

His choice for the post is David Chipman, a 25-year veteran of the agency. EFE

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