President Joe Biden announced several useful executive orders Thursday to curb the scourge of gun deaths in America. Yet as he says, the nation has “a long way to go” on this issue.
Biden told the Justice Department to propose a rule to address “ghost guns,” which can be made at home with parts that have no traceable serial numbers. The prez wants to require IDs for such materials and to subject owners to background checks.
He also wants Justice to clarify when “a stabilizing brace” turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. Last month’s Boulder, Colo., shooter apparently used such a device as he took 10 innocent lives.
Biden also ordered up a federal template for state “red flag” laws to let family or police petition courts to temporarily ban someone showing danger signs from possessing firearms.
And he told the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to do its first major report since 2000 on illegal firearms trafficking.
No reasonable person should have any qualms with any of these measures. None even begins to encroach on the Second Amendment.
And they follow widespread public disgust with America’s out-of-control firearm deaths, whether from street gunfire, mass shootings, domestic violence or suicides — which together claimed nearly 40,000 lives in 2019.
But these orders are just first steps that might lead to action. Even at best, they’re far from sufficient to rid the nation of the kind of weapons of war that spill blood, spread terror and all too often fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t be anywhere near a firearm.
What the public really wants are strong new laws that, among other things, rein in militarized firearms — i.e., assault weapons — and high-capacity magazines, which let shooters wreak untold horror in just seconds. Expanded background checks and longer waiting periods for gun purchases can also help avoid tragedies.
Congress has plenty of gun-control opponents. But if the loss of 40,000 lives a year isn’t enough to spur action, what will?
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