Biden's mandate to tackle gun violence makes for stark reading - but he likely won't get far

April 08, 2021

President Joe Biden is trying to limit self-assembled "ghost guns" and make it easier for people to warn about family members who should not be allowed to purchase firearms.

The new measures to tackle gun violence, following recent mass shootings, include plans to make "stabilising braces" - which turn pistols into rifles - subject to registration under the National Firearms Act.

He also wants stricter regulation of "ghost guns" - kit guns that are purchased with no serial numbers making them easy to use for terrorists and criminals.

Mr Biden's executive actions are limited and will still likely face legal opposition from gun rights supporters, who view any efforts to limit access as a violation of the Second Amendment.

More ambitious goals that he needs the support of Congress to pass include reintroducing a ban on assault weapons, lifting an exemption on lawsuits against gun makers, and passing a nationwide red flag law.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to ask state courts to temporarily block people from obtaining firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

Mr Biden said states with such red flag laws have seen a reduction in the number of suicides.

The president has a gun problem and we've now learnt how he proposes to tackle the "epidemic" of violence shattering communities across the US.

Interestingly, when the path is blocked through Congress, he, like many of his predecessors, reached for executive actions - the fiat of presidential power and a way to push his agenda.

He had promised to increase gun controls as part of his campaign and the scale of the problem is huge.

During an impassioned and emotional speech in the Rose Garden at the White House, he laid out the devastating toll gun violence is taking on the health of America.

In figures, it makes for stark and depressing reading.

The cost of gun violence, according to the president, is $280bn every year - that's in hospitals, lawyers, prisons, physiotherapy and lost productivity.

But that cost ignores the emotional pain.

Every day in the US, 316 people are shot, with 106 of them dying.

Every month, 53 women are shot by violent partners.

This ledger of violence is an "epidemic and an international embarrassment", he said.

Mr Biden's measures are a start but this is a problem that is so huge it will take a united effort.

And there is already resistance.

The National Rifle Association called President Biden's speech a circus and accused him of dismantling the Second Amendment and urged its members to "stand and fight".

The reality is without support through Congress anything this president, or indeed any president, tries to do to increase gun controls will be limited.

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