President Joe Biden said Thursday he will be taking executive actions to tighten gun laws while also promising to make good on a pledge to come up with legislation that would strip away liability protections for gun manufacturers.
Biden was asked about the policy proposals at his first presidential press conference, which occurred 65 days into his term in office, following two horrific mass shootings.
Biden was asked whether he had decided to produce legislation on gun manufacturer liability, as well as executive actions that were floated, including one dealing with kits known as ‘ghost guns,’ as well as aiding states and cities in their own gun control efforts.
‘It’s a matter of timing,’ President Joe Biden said when asked about executive actions and gun control legislation he would put out
‘All the above,’ said Biden, when asked about the ideas.
‘It’s a matter of timing,’ he said.
Biden then went on to observe that, ‘Successful presidents, better than me, have been successful in large part because they know how to time what they’re doing. Order it, decide and priorities – what needs to be done.’
He then touted his next major initiative – a $3 trillion infrastructure bill. ‘I’ll be announcing it Friday in Pittsburgh in detail,’ he said – although Biden in fact plans to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
But Biden also cast gun control as among a host of issues he would be able to tend to after acting on his top priority: getting control of the coronavirus, a topic that reporters did not ask him about during the hour-long press conference.
‘And the other problems we’re talking about from immigration to guns and the other things you mentioned are longterm problems. They’ve been around a long time, and what we’re going to be able to do, God willing, is now began one at a time to focus on those as well, and whether it’s immigration or guns or a number of other problems that face the country,’ Biden said.
Biden used the gun liability issue during the 2020 campaign, noting that then-rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who hailed from relatively pro-gun Vermont, had voted for the protections.
‘It is so long past time that we correct one of the most egregious special interest giveaways the United States Congress has ever engaged in – the civil liability protections granted to gun manufacturers against being sued by the victims of gun violence,’ Biden said last year.
Biden is weighing using executive orders on gun control as doubts rise Congress will pass legislation in the wake of mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration believes lasting change should come vial the law-making powers in Congress but signaled the White House is open to using the power of Biden’s executive pen if needed.
‘We want it to be lasting, we need it to be legislation,’ she said at her press briefing, adding that Biden ‘certainly believes that. But there are also executive actions under consideration that we will continue working through internally. And there’s lots of levers you can take.’
Administration officials have spoken to some Senate Democrats about three possible executive actions, The New York Times reported: one would classify as firearms so-called ghost guns — kits that allow a gun to be assembled from pieces; another would fund community violence intervention programs; and the third would strengthen the background checks system.
President Joe Biden is weighing using executive orders on gun control as doubts rise Congress will pass legislation
Pressure has grown on the president to address gun violence after a shooter in Atlanta killed eight people, including six Asian women, and a shooter in Boulder, Colorado, shot up a grocery store, leaving 10 dead, including a police officer who responded to the scene.
But even Biden acknowledged he may not have the political capitol to get legislation passed on Capitol Hill.
‘I haven’t done any counting yet,’ he said during a stop in Ohio on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, more than 30 gun control advocacy groups are asking to meet with Biden on the issue.
The groups are calling on the president to issue executive actions on gun control, invest in community action, and appoint a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) director who will ensure needed oversight and accountability for the gun industry, the groups said in a statement.
During the presidential campaign, Biden advocated for background checks on all firearms purchases, ban large-capacity magazines for guns and end civil immunity for gun manufacturers in wrongful death lawsuits.
In Atlanta last week, a gunman traveled to three different Atlanta-area massage parlors where he killed a total of eight people – six of Asian American descent. He said he committed the crime to help prevent temptation.
Not even a week later, a gunman opened fire in a Boulder grocery store, killing 10, including a police officer.
After the shootings, Biden reiterated his call to ban assault weapons and called on Congress to pass legislation.
‘We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,’ he said at the White House Tuesday. ‘This should not be a partisan issue. It’s an American issue. It will save lives. American lives. We have to act.’
On Monday, a gunman opened fire in a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store, killing 10, including a police office
In Atlanta last week, a gunman traveled to three different Atlanta-area massage parlors where he killed a total of eight people – six of Asian American descent
He also told senators that they should pass two gun control bills, which plug up background check loopholes for gun buyers, that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.
During his brief remarks Tuesday, Biden did talk about what could be done legislatively.
‘I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future,’ Biden said. ‘I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.’
He then called on them to ban assault weapons yet again – and to target high-capacity magazines.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 and attempts to renew it in Congress have been unsuccessful.
‘We got that done when I was a senator, it passed, it was the law for the longest time and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again,’ the president continued.
‘The Senate should immediately pass – let me say it again – the United States Senate, I hope some are listening, should immediately pass the two House-passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system,’ Biden urged. ‘These are bills that received votes of both Republicans and Democrats in the House.’
Gun control issues face an uphill battle in the Senate despite the Democratic control of the chamber.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence on Tuesday and, there, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas chewed out Democrats for their gun control proposals.
‘It’s time to do something,’ the Texas Republican said. ‘Every time there’s a shooting we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.’
‘What they propose – it makes it worse,’ Cruz said, accusing Democrats of ‘taking guns away from law abiding citizens.’
He said he plans to reintroduce the Grassley-Cruz measure, which increased resources available to prosecutors to go after people who violate gun laws and prosecute those who fail federal background checks.
Cruz said the bill, which he worked on with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, is ‘targeted at violent criminals, targeted at felons, targeted at fugitives, targeted at those with serious mental disease, to stop them from getting firearms, to put them in prison when they try to illegally buy guns.’
The House, earlier this month, passed legislation requiring universal background checks, but the legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate.