US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive actions to curb armed violence after two shooting attacks last month in Atlanta and Boulder added 18 victims to the death toll. firearms in the country.
“Armed violence in this country is an epidemic,” said Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Justice Merrick Garland, during the address in the White House garden. “Today we are taking steps to tackle not only the arms crisis, but what is actually a public health crisis.”
Among the new rules announced by the president and prepared by the Department of Justice, is a proposal to reduce the proliferation of “ghost weapons”, kits with parts and instructions that allow the buyer to assemble their own weaponry “in less than 30 minutes” and, thus, circumvent the authorities’ inspection.
According to experts, these kits have become particularly attractive to criminal organizations and extremist groups, and since they do not require background checks, they are often linked to attacks in states where the laws and criteria for the purchase of weapons are more stringent. “I want to see these kits treated like firearms under the gun control law,” said Biden.
Another rule to be validated within the next 60 days determines that weapons equipped with devices known as “stabilizer belts”, which make shots more accurate and therefore more lethal, will be subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.
The perpetrator of the attack in Boulder, Colorado, which killed ten people in a supermarket on March 22, wore one of these seat belts, according to authorities. In practice, these devices turn pistols into short-barreled rifles, which increases their potential for damage.
Also within two months, the Department of Justice is expected to publish a proposal for legislation known as the “red flag”, which allows courts and local authorities to temporarily remove access to weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or the community.
The plan, according to Garland, is for the text to serve as a model for American states to write their own versions. For this type of law to enter into force at the federal level, Biden needs an endorsement from Congress, but the goal, according to the White House, is to make it easier for states that want to implement the changes immediately.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws. With the exception of Alaska and Wisconsin, which already have projects in progress, it is not known how many and which states are considering implementing the legislation.
“Whether Congress acts or not, I will use all the resources at my disposal to make Americans safe,” said Biden on Thursday, referring to the fact that proposals that somehow stiffen gun control in the United States. The United States traditionally runs into opposition from the Republican Party, supported by lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Last month, for example, the House, with a Democratic majority, approved two bills: the extension of the background check of those who buy weapons over the internet or at fairs and the increase in the period between sale and delivery, to up to ten days, giving you more time to analyze the buyer’s history.
In the Senate, however, projects are at a standstill. Of the 100 seats in the House, 50 are for Republicans, 48 for Democrats, and 2, for independents who vote with the governing party. The tiebreaker vote, when necessary, is given by Vice President Kamala Harris, which grants a slight advantage to Biden’s supporters.
An obstruction rule, however, means that most laws need 60 votes to pass. Thus, Republicans can use the maneuver to block proposals, since at least ten of them would have to vote with Democrats to advance the projects.
In his first speech after the Colorado attack, Biden insisted that gun legislation should not be a matter of party differences. “I don’t need to wait another minute – much less an hour – to take common sense measures that will save lives in the future and I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to take action,” he said at the time.
Kamala, who opened this Thursday’s statement, said the United States had already experienced “more tragedies than we can handle.” For her, the moment calls for “the will and courage to act”, characteristics that she attributed to Biden, when listing projects that he helped to approve and conduct in his terms as senator and as vice president in the management of Barack Obama.
According to this Thursday’s announcements, the US government will also step up investments in communities traditionally hardest hit by gun violence, whether through gunfire, domestic violence or suicide.
Investments of US $ 5 billion (R $ 27.7 billion) are foreseen in job creation programs, guidance to states on financing community intervention programs and direct actions by federal agencies.
The Justice Department will also begin to produce annual reports on arms trafficking to support public policies that curb this practice – the last such document was prepared in 2000.
Opposition to the ads started on Wednesday. The NRA said it is ready to challenge the actions announced by the White House in court. “Biden has made it clear that his aim is to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners, while ignoring criminals and renouncing substantive measures that will really keep Americans safe,” the organization said through its spokesperson. Amy Hunter voice.
The group also criticized the nomination of David Chipman, currently an adviser to an organization that advocates gun control, to head the ATF, the body responsible for enforcing laws related to alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives.
Chipman’s confirmation for the post, however, also needs Senate approval – in this case, by simple majority. While convincing a single Republican senator to vote with Democrats seems much easier than changing the 10 vote in cases of passing legislation, the House’s endorsement is still uncertain.
ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015. In addition, since 2006, when lawmakers decided that the head of the agency is a political nomination and therefore requires confirmation from the Senate, only one person has obtained the approval of the senators: B. Todd Jones, nominated by Obama.
Former President Donald Trump even withdrew the appointment of Chuck Canterbury, from the largest American police syndicate, after he refused to totally rule out the possibility of expanding the criteria for allowing arms purchases, such as background checks.
Major US gun laws
2nd Constitutional Amendment
It just says: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms must not be infringed”.
National Firearms Act (National firearms law)
First federal law to regulate and tax the manufacture and sale of larger caliber weapons. Pistols were outside the rules.
Federal Firearms Act (Federal firearms law)
He demanded that arms manufacturers, importers and sellers have a license to act and prevented the sale of arms to ex-convicts, among other categories
Gun Control Act (Gun control law)
It expanded the list of restrictions on purchases, determined that weapons should have a registration number, and vetoed imports, except for sporting purposes – but without defining what would be “sporting purposes”.
Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (Gun owners protection law)
It lifted several restrictions on buying, legalized the sale at arms fairs, and loosened the requirements for traders to keep records on the products sold.
Brady Act (Lei Brady)
Established a period of five days between purchase and delivery, to allow more time for checking the customer’s background. In the following years, the standard was relaxed and, at present, rapid assessment is permitted in many cases.
Federal Assault Weapons Ban (Federal veto on assault weapons)
It banned the manufacture, sale and possession of semiautomatic weapons and greater firepower. The measure expired in 2004 and has not been renewed.
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (Protection of the legal arms trade)
It has banned manufacturers and sellers from being prosecuted if their products are used in crimes and has now demanded that weapons be transported and maintained safely.
NCIS Improvement Amendments Act (Law to improve the national criminal information checking system)
It provided financial incentives for states to improve databases to be consulted by sellers before handing over weapons to buyers.