Biden to Sign Executive Order on Guns

March 14, 2023

President Biden is set to sign an executive order Tuesday that the White House says will get the U.S. “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation.”

The signing will take place in Monterey Park, California, a majority Asian American community east of Los Angeles where 11 people were killed and nine wounded in a mass shooting earlier this year.

The executive order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to ensure that gun sellers who are either skirting the law or may not realize they’re required to run background checks are doing so ahead of any firearm purchases. 

According to a White House press release, the executive order will also increase “the effective use of ‘red flag’ laws, strengthen efforts to hold the gun industry accountable, and accelerate law enforcement efforts to identify and apprehend the shooters menacing our communities.”

The legislation builds on the Safer Communities Act that Biden signed into law in June following the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York. The bill had passed along bipartisan lines in both the House and the Senate.

That 2022 legislation includes enhanced background checks for gun buyers under age 21, funding for mental health and school safety, and incentives to implement “red flag” laws to get guns out of the hands of anyone exhibiting signs that they’re a threat to themself or to others. It also closes the “boyfriend loophole” by adding domestic abusers to the national background check list, and it allocated a total of $1.4 billion to the DOJ over five years for gun violence prevention measures.

When Biden signed the bill into law, he said at the time, “this bill doesn’t do everything that I want.”

The new executive order will also repeal gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. Further, the President will direct Garland to develop and implement a plan to prevent former federally licensed gun dealers whose licenses have been revoked or surrendered from continuing to sell firearms.

Biden’s executive order won’t be as sweeping as what Congressional legislation could potentially achieve, and a future President could undo it with a stroke of their own pen.

With that in mind, one Administration official said, “You’ll absolutely hear him call for [further] legislation,” adding, “But in the meantime, he wants the federal government to be doing all we can with existing authority to reduce gun violence and that’s what this executive order does.” 

This will be Biden’s first trip to Monterey Park since the mass shooting in January, when a gunman opened fire on a roomful of people celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The President’s trip also includes fundraising stops as he prepares to launch a likely reelection campaign. 

Gun violence was a key issue that drove young voters to the polls in the last midterm election. Generation Z’s turnout in November is considered one of the driving factors in Democrats’ holding off the Republicans’ anticipated “red wave” on Election Day 2022.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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