Times Standard (Eureka)

Gun background check bill signed

- By Zeke Miller and Colleen Long

SAN DIEGO >> President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday aiming to increase the number of background checks to buy guns, promote more secure firearms storage and ensure U.S. law enforcemen­t agencies are getting the most out of a bipartisan gun control law enacted last summer.

The Democratic president was set to address his latest efforts to curb gun violence in a speech from Monterey Park. In January, a gunman stormed a dance hall in the community near Los Angeles and shot 20 people, killing 11, following a Lunar New Year celebratio­n. He’s also scheduled to meet with families of the victims and first responders from that day.

Biden’s rhetoric has only grown stronger around guns — he routinely calls for banning so-called assault weapons in his speeches — and Democrats didn’t push such a vocal gun-control platform even during the Obama administra­tion, when Biden was vice president. But Biden has been emboldened by the midterms after his regular talk of gun control didn’t result in massive losses, and he’s expected to continue to push for strong changes as he inches toward a 2024 run, his aides say.

Biden invited Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old who wrestled the semi-automatic pistol away from the Monterey Park gunman, to his State of the Union address and praised the young man’s heroism.

“He saved lives. It’s time we do the same as well,” Biden said in his speech to Congress. “Ban assault weapons once and for all.”

But the president’s power is limited to go beyond bipartisan legislatio­n passed by Congress last summer, the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades. It followed the killings last year of 10 shoppers at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store and 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

“Too many lives have been taken by gun violence,” White House press secretary Karine JeanPierre said Monday. “But he believes we need to do more. You’ll hear him call on Congress to take action and not to stop ... that we need to continue.”

Tuesday’s action does not change U.S. government policy. Rather, it directs federal agencies to ensure compliance with existing laws and procedures — a typical feature of executive orders issued by presidents when they confront the limits of their own power to act without cooperatio­n from Congress.

Biden, in the order, acknowledg­ed Congress’ opposition, but said, “In the meantime, my Administra­tion will continue to do all that we can, within existing authority, to make our communitie­s safer.”

The order directs the Cabinet to work on a plan to better structure the government to support communitie­s suffering from gun violence. The plan calls on Attorney General Merrick Garland to shore up rules for federally licensed gun dealers so they know they are required to do background checks as part of the license.

 ?? EVAN VUCCI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? President Joe Biden speaks at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego on Monday.
EVAN VUCCI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS President Joe Biden speaks at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego on Monday.

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