Biden says ‘no Amendment in the Constitution is absolute’ in new gun crackdown

President Joe Biden on Thursday described mass shootings in America as a ‘public health crisis’ and declared ‘no amendment to the constitution is absolute’ as he unveiled a series of executive orders designed to curb gun violence. 

He started off on the defensive, declaring he was not trying to impinge on the Second Amendment, an argument gun rights groups, Republicans and some Democrats have made.

‘Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment. These are phony arguments, suggesting that these are second amendment rights at stake,’ he said at the event in the Rose Garden.

‘No amendment to the constitution is absolute,’ Biden declared, pointing to the famous Supreme Court ruling that you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater as part of the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

‘From the very beginning you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own, and from the very beginning of 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,’ he said.  ‘Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment.’

‘For God’s sake, it has to stop.’

President Joe Biden was joined in the Rose Garden by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland in his announcement on new gun control measures

President Joe Biden was joined in the Rose Garden by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland in his announcement on new gun control measures

President Joe Biden was joined in the Rose Garden by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland in his announcement on new gun control measures

First lady Jill Biden was in the Rose Garden for Biden's announcement

First lady Jill Biden was in the Rose Garden for Biden's announcement

First lady Jill Biden was in the Rose Garden for Biden’s announcement

Gun control advocate Gabby Giffords - the congresswoman shot by a constituent at an event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 - was in the Rose Garden for the announcement

Gun control advocate Gabby Giffords - the congresswoman shot by a constituent at an event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 - was in the Rose Garden for the announcement

Gun control advocate Gabby Giffords – the congresswoman shot by a constituent at an event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 – was in the Rose Garden for the announcement

Biden was joined in the Rose Garden by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Sitting in the audience were first lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, advocate Gabby Giffords – the congresswoman shot by a constituent at an event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 – and several Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for gun control legislation on Capitol Hill.

At several points his speech was interrupted by applause from the Democratic-friendly crowd. 

After his remarks, Biden jogged down from the podium to give Giffords an elbow bump. She blew him a kiss. ‘I wasn’t supposed to do that,’ he said afterward, adding: ‘Let’s get to work.

Biden’s speech centered on how gun violence affects Americans lives, particularly children, and pointed out its cost to the nation. 

‘Gun violence in our neighborhood is having profound impact on our children, even if they’re never involved,’ he said, noting gun violence costs the country $280 billion a year. 

‘We can save lives, create safe and healthy communities, and build economies that work for all of us, and save billions of American dollars,’ Biden said. 

The orders are the first of what is expected to be a series of actions by the Biden’s administration, which has faced increased pressure to tackle the issue in the wake of mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo. Ahead of Biden’s remarks, aides called the actions an ‘initial’ offering.

Biden named gun control advocate David Chipman as his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman, a veteran ATF agent, headed Giffords' gun control advocacy group

Biden named gun control advocate David Chipman as his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman, a veteran ATF agent, headed Giffords' gun control advocacy group

Biden named gun control advocate David Chipman as his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman, a veteran ATF agent, headed Giffords’ gun control advocacy group

‘Folks this is just the start,’ the president said. 

Biden called on the Senate to pass three House-approved bills that would bring universal background checks including on private gun sales; close what is known as the ‘Charleston loophole,’ which allows a gun sale to go through if a background check isn’t finished after three days; and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

‘They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers members of Congress, but they not passed a single new federal law to reduce gun violence,’ he said. 

‘Enough prayers. Time for action. 

In his remarks, Biden announced tighter regulations requiring buyers of so-called ‘ghost guns’ to undergo background checks.  

‘Ghost guns’ are normally assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine and often lack serial numbers used to trace them.

‘Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit as little as 30 minutes put together a weapon,’ Biden said in his remarks. 

It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in 2019. They are seen as a growing problem in America.

Biden also went after pistol braces that allow for more accurate shooting, saying he make them subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The gunman in the recent Boulder shootings used a pistol brace, which can transform a pistol  into a short-barrel rifle.

Additionally, Biden named gun control advocate David Chipman as his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman, a veteran ATF agent, headed Giffords’ gun control advocacy group. 

The ATF has not had a confirmed permanent director since 2015. It is currently run by Acting Director Regina Lombardo.

He also repeated his call to allow for the suing of gun manufacturers by victims of gun violence.

‘If I get one thing on my list, if the Lord came down and said Joey, you one of these, give me that one,’ Biden said. 

After his remarks, President Joe Biden came down to the audience to elbow bump former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords

After his remarks, President Joe Biden came down to the audience to elbow bump former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords

After his remarks, President Joe Biden came down to the audience to elbow bump former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords

Giffords blew a kiss to the president; she became a gun control advocate after being shot by a constituent at a 2011 event in Arizona

Giffords blew a kiss to the president; she became a gun control advocate after being shot by a constituent at a 2011 event in Arizona

Giffords blew a kiss to the president; she became a gun control advocate after being shot by a constituent at a 2011 event in Arizona 

Vice President Kamala Harris applauds after President Joe Biden finishes his remarks on his new executive orders to curb gun violence

Vice President Kamala Harris applauds after President Joe Biden finishes his remarks on his new executive orders to curb gun violence

Vice President Kamala Harris applauds after President Joe Biden finishes his remarks on his new executive orders to curb gun violence

The president’s announcement falls short of the sweeping crackdown on guns he campaigned on while his administration tries to figure out how to pass tougher legislation through Congress with stiff Republican opposition. 

A few Republicans have expressed outrage at Biden’s executive orders, which would have to be challenged in a court of law.

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who campaigned for Congress with her glock at her side, urged Republican state attorneys general to challenge the orders in court.

‘Republican Attorney Generals, get ready to fight the Biden executive orders on gun control all the way! I’ll be doing my part from the House! Let’s ensure we stop this tyrant,’ she tweeted.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas argued the answer wasn’t more legislation but a crackdown on those who used guns in crimes.

‘The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental for preserving our liberty. The answer is not to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, the answer is to go after violent criminals and come down on them like a ton of bricks,’ he tweeted. 

And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted a photo of herself with an AK-47, writing: ‘The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed!’ 

Biden has faced increasing pressure to act after a spate of mass shootings across the U.S. in recent weeks – including rampages in massage spas in Atlanta and a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

But the White House has repeatedly emphasized the need for legislative action on guns.  

But it’s highly unlikely the House measures would get the 60 votes needed to proceed in the 50-50 Senate. It’s not just Republican objections, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has expressed opposition to the House measures.  

BIDEN’S CRACKDOWN ON GUNS 

 The Justice Department, within 30 days, will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of ‘ghost guns.’

We are experiencing a growing problem: criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number. The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of these firearms.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will issue a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act

The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will publish model ‘red flag’ legislation for states 

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. The President urges Congress to pass an appropriate national ‘red flag’ law, as well as legislation incentivizing states to pass ‘red flag’ laws of their own. In the interim, the Justice Department’s published model legislation will make it easier for states that want to adopt red flag laws to do so.

The Administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions 

Community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration. Because cities across the country are experiencing a historic spike in homicides, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking a number of steps to prioritize investment in community violence interventions.

The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking 

In 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) issued a report summarizing information regarding its investigations into firearms trafficking, which is one way firearms are diverted into the illegal market where they can easily end up in the hands of dangerous individuals. Since the report’s publication, states, local, and federal policymakers have relied on its data to better thwart the common channels of firearms trafficking. But there is good reason to believe that firearms trafficking channels have changed since 2000, for example due to the emergence of online sales and proliferation of ‘ghost guns.’ The Justice Department will issue a new, comprehensive report on firearms trafficking and annual updates necessary to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking today. 

 

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The homemade firearms – often assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine – often lack serial numbers used to trace them

During his campaign, Biden promised to prioritize new gun control measures as president, including enacting universal background check legislation, banning online sales of firearms and the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

But gun-control advocates have said that while they were heartened by signs from the White House that they took the issue seriously, they’ve been disappointed by the lack of early action.

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