WASHINGTON, DC -- In President Joe Biden’s first notable gun control measures, he announced executive actions on Thursday aimed at addressing what the White House calls a “gun violence public health epidemic."
Biden's limited steps come three weeks after three mass shootings and with his administration under pressure to act.
In his actions, Biden is tightening regulations for “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts without serial numbers — and tightening regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces, like the one used by the Boulder, Colorado shooter in a rampage last month that left 10 dead.
"Gun violence in this country is an epidemic," Biden said in remarks delivered in the White House Rose Garden before an audience of gun-control advocates and Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for gun control legislation on Capitol Hill. "It’s an international embarrassment," he said.
The gun-control advocates praised Biden's executive actions but said much more must be done in Congress — where chances are much dimmer.
Biden, too, acknowledged he can only do so much without cooperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
"I asked the attorney general and his team to identify for me immediate concrete actions I could take now without having to go through the Congress," Biden said.
He later conceded that repealing immunity for gun manufacturers, which would require legislation, is a main priority, and something he wished he could do now. Biden promised on the campaign trail to send such a bill to Congress on the first day of his administration, but has yet to do so.
"If I get one thing on my list, the Lord came down and said, Joe, you get one of these, give me that one," Biden said. "Because I tell you what, there would be a come to the Lord moment these folks would have real quickly."
The president, who was joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland, also announced his nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman, a former ATF agent, has most recently served as a high-profile gun control advocate with the gun control advocacy group named for former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot in the head in a 2011 shooting in her district while meeting with constituents.
Biden also called for investments in evidence-based community violence intervention, asked the U.S. Department Of Justice to publish model "red flag" legislation for states within 60 days and issued a new annual report on firearms trafficking, which hasn't been done since 2000.
There is nothing related to assault rifles in these actions and there will be no legislative proposal from Biden, though senior administration officials stress that these are only initial actions, leaving room for more to come down the road.
The president's current moves are limited and it remains unclear how effective they will be or if they will face any legal challenges.