Biden executive order reinforces background checks for gun buyers

Gun Rights

March 14 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Tuesday that reinforced background checks for gun buyers in what the White House is promoting as the most comprehensive policy the president can enact without Congress.

The order aims to strengthen federal support for red flag laws intended to stop gun sales to people deemed dangerous. Such measures have been passed by 19 states and the District of Columbia. The Biden administration has also taken previous executive actionseeking to reduce gun violence.

Biden’s order also encouraged safe storage of guns and asked the Federal Trade Commission to analyze how gun manufacturers market firearms, including to minors. The White House, which released the order, said Biden planned to discuss it on Tuesday with gun violence victims in Monterey Park, California, where a shooter opened fire in a dance hall on Jan. 21, killing 11 people and injuring nine others.

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With more than 40,000 U.S. gun deaths per year, Biden is betting voters will embrace more proactive gun control. Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to challenge the Democrat Biden in 2024 are certain to favor more expansive gun rights, backed by influential groups such as the National Rifle Association.

The Biden administration is pointing to poll results showing most Americans support background checks.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll last year found 84% of respondents supported background checks for all firearms sales and 70% backed red flag laws. That survey was taken immediately after a gunman opened fired at a school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers.

Some gun rights advocates oppose background checks, saying they infringe on constitutional rights to possess arms while failing to stop criminals from getting them. They also contend many red flag laws trample on due process rights.

Biden’s order also proposed that the federal government respond to mass shootings in a coordinated fashion, similar to the way Washington reacts to a natural disaster. Biden has asked his cabinet to develop a federal response that would provide trauma counseling or financial assistance, for example, to a community upended by a mass shooting.

But the heart of the executive order seeks to expand background checks intended to prevent felons or domestic abusers from buying guns, largely by leaning on federally licensed gun dealers to comply or educating others who may not realize they are required to run background checks under existing law, the White House said.

The president last year signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun control legislation in 30 years.

But since then, the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, ending virtually any chance of more gun legislation for the next two years, such as Biden’s proposed bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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