Biden Targets ‘Ghost Guns’ in New Measures to Curb Firearm Violence

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Photo by Tony Webster via Flickr

In the aftermath of the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, the Joe Biden administration has unveiled several executive actions designed to curb gun violence, and is also planning to nominate David Chipman, a former federal agent and gun control advocate, to direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), reports The Guardian.

The actions include a directive that the Justice Department, within the next month, issue proposed regulations on “ghost guns” – unregistered firearms that can be assembled from parts. President Biden will also direct the justice department to clarify regulations to ensure that pistols fitted with stabilizing braces, which essentially transform them into rifles, will be regulated under the National Firearms Act.

So-called “ghost guns” have been identified as a major factor in fueling the threat of violence from right-wing extremist groups.

In a commentary posted this week in the Injury Epidemiology journal, violence prevention researcher Garen J. Wintemute, warned “the potential for large-scale, clandestine firearm manufacture in support of armed extremist groups is cause for great concern.”

Wintemute, of the UC-Davis Violence Prevention Center, recommended a federal ban on the unlicensed manufacture of firearms, and extending current firearm purchase restrictions on weaponry to precursor parts.

The details of the president’s recommendations have not yet been announced.

As part of his anti-violence plan, Biden will also ask various agencies to direct more resources to community violence prevention measures, and call on the justice department to develop model “red flag” laws – which allow family members to petition courts to take firearms away from people who are deemed a threat – for states to take up and adopt.

Naming Chipman, who has strong positions against all assault weapons and is in favour of other restrictions, as ATF director could be another step toward more comprehensive gun control. As a special agent for the ATF, Chipman investigated gun-trafficking operations and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He later left the agency, and worked with Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, and ShotSpotter, a company that specializes in gunshot detection technology used by police. Republicans remain staunchly opposed to legislation.

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