The Biden administration Thursday announced a handful of executive orders to address what it called “the gun violence public health epidemic,” highlighting the recent mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta.
President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence, such as closing loopholes in the gun background check system, along with “boyfriend” and stalking loopholes that allow people found by the courts to be abusers to possess firearms.
He demanded Congress go further and ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repeal gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability and invest in evidence-based community violence interventions.
In addition, he called for a national red flag law and legislation to incentivize states to pass red flag laws of their own. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others, according to the fact sheet on the actions released by the administration.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it is an international embarrassment,” President Biden said as he made remarks in the Rose Garden. “The idea is just bizarre to suggest some of the things we are recommending is contrary to the Constitution.”
He stressed that the administration will not wait for Congress to act on its own. Instead he presented six executive orders aimed to curb gun violence.
The first is that he is giving the Department of Justice 30 days to issue a rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are unregistered, self-assembled firearms without serial numbers that are largely untraceable. The DOJ will also have 60 days to issue a proposed rule to reduce access to stabilizing braces, which the suspected shooter in the Boulder tragedy used to make his firearm more stable and accurate.
President Biden called on the DOJ to publish model red flag legislation for states and a national law in 60 days, and to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking to provide policymakers the information they need to address the issue, something that hasn’t occurred since 2000.
Furthermore, between his proposed American Jobs Plan, a webinar and toolkit from the Department of Health and Human Services and changes to many programs supporting community violence intervention programs, he hopes to prioritize investment in interventions.
The president also nominated David Chipman to serve as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the key agency enforcing gun laws. The ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015, but Mr. Chipman has served the ATF for 25 years and will now work to advance gun safety laws.
“The job of any president is to protect the American people, whether Congress acts or not,” President Biden said. “I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe from gun violence, but there’s much more that Congress can do to help that effort.”
The Santa Barbara County Democratic Party and its chair, Darcel Elliot, did not return multiple phone calls and email requests from the News-Press for comment, along with Santa Barbara Young Democrats and Democratic Socialists of America Santa Barbara. The Democratic Service Club president, Charles Clouse, declined to comment for lack of knowledge on the subject.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, has voiced support for gun control in the past, including implementing gun violence restraining orders (red flag laws); strengthening background checks; enhancing punishments for straw purchases; and addressing loopholes for perpetrators of dating violence and stalking to legally access guns, among others.
“There is no single solution to end the gun violence epidemic in America, but that is no reason not to try and prevent some of these horrific attacks with commonsense reforms,” Rep. Carbajal writes on his website. “We must protect our communities from this senseless violence while respecting the protection offered by the 2nd Amendment.”
Steve Thomas is the president of the Santa Barbara Tea Party and Culpepper Society and a member of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Gun Owners of California and the National Rifle Association. To him, President Biden’s executive actions are “radically out of tune with the Constitution.”
Regarding the president’s demands to reduce access to ghost guns, Mr. Thomas told the News-Press, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says anything about ghost guns. Every gun in the Revolutionary War was a ghost gun … During the Revolutionary War, the only way the country was able to survive was because the citizens already had guns and already knew how to use them.”
The gun advocate said that areas with the highest amounts of gun control still have the most crime and highest homicide rates, and that “a sign that says ‘gun-free zone’ has never stopped a bullet.” He quoted the Constitution’s Second Amendment and noted every adult is considered part of the amendment’s “well-regulated militia” and is protected by the Constitution to keep and bear arms.
Mr. Thomas said red flag laws would violate people’s right to due process.
“I just don’t understand why this stuff isn’t crystal clear to people. You can’t violate people’s rights like that,” he said. “The person affected by the red flag law has no right to a hearing to defend his actions or whatever caused the red flag complaint to begin with. Red flag laws are just an unconstitutional way of taking away somebody’s guns.
“If you get a neighbor that doesn’t like you or a relative that’s angry at you, they can pull out a red flag complaint and take your guns, and you have to fight like hell to get them back.”
Mr. Thomas concluded that the only way to protect Americans, in his opinion, is with “responsible gun ownership.” He cited the shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, in 2019, where the gunman was shot to death by a local former firearms instructor. He said that that local “saved the lives of a tremendous number of people.”
“There’s plenty of bad people out there, but unfortunately, the way we find ourselves today … There are something like 300 to 400 million guns in the hands of private citizens in the U.S. Some of those are going to get stolen or fall into the hands of evil people,” Mr. Thomas said.
“The only way to stop them is with responsible gun ownership and people who know how to use them, which is what this country was founded on.”