Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Biden to unveil actions on guns, including new ATF boss

- By Alexandra Jaffe, Aamer Madhani and Michael Balsamo

WASHINGTON » President Joe Biden will unveil a series of executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence on Thursday, delivering his first major action on gun control since taking office.

He’ll also nominate David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to senior Biden administra­tion officials.

Biden has faced increasing pressure to act on gun control after a spate of mass shootings across the U.S. in recent weeks, but the White House has repeatedly emphasized the need for legislativ­e action on guns. While the House passed a background-check bill last month, gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly-divided Senate, where Republican­s remain near-unified against most proposals.

Biden will be joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland at the event, and most of the actions will come from the Justice Department.

Biden is expected to announce tighter regulation­s requiring buyers of socalled “ghost guns” to undergo background checks. The homemade firearms — often assembled from parts and milled with a metalcutti­ng machine — often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requiremen­t for a background check.

The president’s plans were previewed by a person familiar with the expected actions who was not authorized to publicly discuss them.

Senior administra­tion officials confirmed that the Justice Department would issue a new proposed rule aimed at reining in ghost guns within 30 days, but offered no details on the content of the rule.

The Justice Department will also issue a proposed rule within 60 days tightening regulation­s on pistol-stabilizin­g braces, like the one used by the Boulder, Colorado, shooter in a massacre last month that left 10 dead. The rule would designate pistols used with stabilizin­g braces as short-barreled rifles, which, under the National Firearms Act, require a federal license to own and are subject to a more thorough applicatio­n process and a $200 tax.

The Justice Department will also publish model red flag legislatio­n within 60 days, which the administra­tion says will make it easier for states to adopt their own red flag laws. Such laws allow for individual­s to petition a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

And it will begin to provide more data on firearms traffickin­g, starting with a new comprehens­ive report on the issue, which the Biden administra­tion says it hasn’t done in over two decades.

The president will also announce investment­s in community violence interventi­on programs, which are aimed at reducing gun violence in urban communitie­s, across five federal agencies.

Administra­tion officials hinted there may be more to come from the administra­tion on guns, calling the round of executive actions “initial steps” that were completed under Garland’s purview within the first few weeks of his tenure.

The ATF is currently run by Acting Director Regina Lombardo. Gun-control advocates have emphasized the significan­ce of the ATF director in enforcing the nation’s gun laws, and Chipman is certain to win praise from them. During his time as a senior policy adviser with Giffords, he spent considerab­le effort pushing for greater regulation and enforcemen­t on ghost guns, reforms of the background check system and measures to reduce the traffickin­g of illegal firearms.

Prior to that, Chipman spent 25 years as an agent at the ATF, where he worked on stopping a traffickin­g ring that sent illegal firearms from Virginia to New York, and served on the ATF’s SWAT team. Chipman is a gun owner himself.

He also is an explosives expert and was among the team involved in investigat­ing the Oklahoma City Bombing and the first World Trade Center bombing. He also was involved in investigat­ing a series of church bombings in Alabama in the 1990s. He retired from the ATF in 2012.

Chipman and a White House spokesman both declined to comment.

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.

With the announceme­nt of the new measures, however, advocates lauded Biden’s first moves to combat gun violence.

“Each of these executive actions will start to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to make good on President Biden’s promise to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

 ?? EVAN VUCCI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the American Jobs Plan in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Washington.
EVAN VUCCI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the American Jobs Plan in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Washington.

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