President Joe Biden on Thursday announced several new gun control measures after two mass shootings last month, claiming that shootings are a “public health crisis.”
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment,” he added in a speech at the White House where he was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Reports said several gun control advocates and local officials also attended.
“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any impinges on the Second Amendment,” Biden added. “These are phony arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we’re talking about.”
Elaborating, the president said: “But 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 the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons. So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution.”
According to text provided by the White House, Biden is directing the Department of Justice to, within 30 days, issue a proposed rule aimed at curbing the spread of so-called ghost guns, or guns that are made from build-it-yourself kits.
The government will also in the next two months issue a proposed rule declaring that a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace will instead be labeled a short-barreled rifle and publish model “red flag” legislation for states.
Three other actions announced Wednesday by the administration are: investment in “community violence interventions” meant to curb the spike in murders and shootings seen last year; starting the issuance of an annual report on firearms trafficking; and the nomination of David Chipman as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Chipman is a former adviser to the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety and a current adviser at Giffords, an organization that says it works to stop gun violence.
“I’ve seen with my own two lives what a bullet can do to the human body … and I’ve fought my entire career to fight this violence and to pass reasonable gun safety measures,” Harris said as she introduced the president on Thursday.
“What are we waiting for? Cause we aren’t waiting or a tragedy … We’ve had more tragedy than we can bear,” she said. “The solutions exist … people on both sides of the aisle want action, real people … so all that is left is the will and the courage to act.”
Biden then called on Congress to take action, saying that “enough prayers … it’s time for some action.”
Earlier Thursday, several prominent gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America criticized Biden’s announcement.
The latter group described Biden’s announcement as tyrannical in nature.
“Like a dictator, Biden is seeking to unilaterally regulate firearms that gun owners currently own. And he’s doing this via executive action—bypassing the constitutional requirements which give Congress the authority to pass legislation,” Gun Owners of America said on Thursday.