Joe Biden mulls 3 executive orders on gun control amid mass shootings if Congress fails to pass legislation

The administration sees its challenges rising in the wake of the mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado and the prospects of passing a law facing hurdles in an evenly-split Senate


                            Joe Biden mulls 3 executive orders on gun control amid mass shootings if Congress fails to pass legislation
More than 30 groups that advocate gun control have sought an audience with President Joe Biden (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris have been strong advocates of gun reforms and the two mass shooting incidents in Georgia and Colorado inside a week this month have made observers curious about how they deal with the menace. The president has spoken out for gun control yet again while the veep has said the former is hesitating to sign executive orders towards that direction since the White House wants the Congress to act on the issue in a bipartisan way.

On Wednesday, March 24, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration still believes a lasting change on gun culture should come through the Congress’s law-making powers but also indicated that the White House is still open to using the president’s executive powers if required. “We want it to be lasting, we need it to be legislation,” she said, adding: “But there are also executive actions under consideration that we will continue working through internally. And there’s lots of levers you can take.”

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Three possible executive actions

The New York Times reported the same day that the administrative officials have spoken to some Democratic members of the Senate about three possible executive actions -- one that would classify the so-called ghost guns (that owners can assemble at home) as firearms, the second funding community violence intervention programs and the third to make the background checks system more robust. Biden has been vowing for a strong background check system though that plan faces a lot of challenges.

The shooting suspect at Boulder was identified by the police as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, aged 21 (YouTube)

The pressure on the Biden presidency, which is already facing a steep challenge at the borders due to the massive rise in immigrants’ counts, to curb gun violence has gone up after the murder of at least 18 people in Atlanta and Boulder on March 16 and 22, respectively. 

Biden urged the Congress to take quick action on the gun violence issue and address gun-control bills passed in the House but the legislation has faced a challenge in the evenly-split Senate. On Tuesday, March 23, Biden was asked during a visit to Ohio whether he has the political capital to enforce changes on gun measures at the moment and to that, he responded: “I don’t know.  I haven’t done any counting yet.”

More than 30 gun control groups want to meet Biden

Meanwhile, more than 30 groups that advocate gun control have sought an audience with Biden. These outfits want the president to issue executive actions to control use of weapons, invest in community action and set up a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director to oversee the gun industry. 

During his presidential campaign last year, Biden strongly advocated for background checks on all firearms purchases, banning large-capacity magazines for guns and ending civil immunity for gun manufacturers in lawsuits over wrongful deaths. 

Protests outside an NRA annual meeting (Getty Images)

 

After the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, Biden was once again vocal over those issues. A day after the Boulder shootings in a grocery, he said at the White House: “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. This should not be a partisan issue. It’s an American issue. It will save lives. American lives. We have to act.”

He also asked the Senate to approve two bills that were passed by the House of Representatives on March 11 to broaden background checks on gun buyers. 

Biden, who had played a key role behind the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004, said: “We got that done when I was a senator, it passed, it was the law for the longest time and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.” Biden was the senator from Delaware then.

VP Harris, who also advocated for gun control during her presidential campaign in 2019, said in an interview on Wednesday that legislation on the issue is what required more than executive orders.