As President Biden announced new executive orders aimed at combatting gun violence yesterday, advocate Sarah Kozloff of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence maintained some reticence to his first gun safety actions since taking office.
She explained that as president, he can only do so much to combat a large problem for the United States.
“These are rather small measures,” she said. “I’m sure he’d like to go bolder, but until more US Senators decide that the daily toll from gun violence is unacceptable, these are the kind of things that he can do on a federal level.”
She stated that state and local governments, such as New York, often step in to enact common sense gun laws when the federal government fails to do so.
“A reminder, in the absence of national leadership, most legislation on gun violence is passed on state and local jurisdictions,” she said. “Those states that require background checks on all gun sales have fewer gun deaths than those that don’t.”
One common sense measure that she feels has gained very little traction at all in either level of government is passing safe storage laws.
“Children die from playing with guns; disturbed teenagers are able to take parents’ guns to school shootings; suicidal people can grab a gun without pausing to think through their actions,” she said. “Safe storage — which we have not been able to get passed — is the single measure that would save the most lives.”
Ghost guns are a feature of one of President Biden’s executive actions. These pertain to guns that can be homemade and do not have a serialized number, so they cannot be tracked in the event they are used in a shooting. A surge in shootings using these guns has emerged in New York state since the pandemic.
Kozloff praised this inclusion of taking action against ghost guns in his series of executive orders, but is not sure how this action will pan out.
Declaring gun violence an “epidemic,” President Biden will also allow for the Justice Department to issue an annual report on the trafficking of firearms, propose a national model for “red flag” laws prohibiting anyone who is a danger to themselves or others from owning a firearm, and increase funds for gun violence prevention programs in underserved communities.
Kozloff believes that calling gun violence an epidemic is the right way to go.
“Gun violence is a problem somewhat akin to drunk driving or cigarette smoking, where we should gather evidence about ways to mitigate harm,” she said. “Funding nonpartisan research is essential.”
He also announced the nomination of gun control advocate David Chipman to the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Additionally, President Biden urged the Senate to pass gun reform legislation that has already been passed in the House.
The two bills that were passed in the House were the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 and H.R. 1446. They work to extend background checks and closed what has become known as the Charleston loophole, which allows someone to purchase a gun after three days have elapsed without a complete background check. It was named as such after Dylann Roof was able to purchase a firearm and kill nine black people at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.