The Biden Administration wants states to enact the gun restrictions it can’t pass at the federal level.
On Wednesday, the White House announced a new effort to institute sweeping firearms regulations state by state. To that end, President Joe Biden issued two new executive orders outlining model legislation he hopes to see adopted by state lawmakers. Vice President Kamala Harris said the administration will continue to push for new federal restrictions but urged states to pass new laws in the meantime.
“I am for the Second Amendment. I am also for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and red flag laws,” she posted on social media. “Congress must have the courage to act, but until they do, the states must lead the way.”
The new initiative represents continued dedication by the President to enact new gun restrictions as he approaches a re-election campaign where he currently trails in a majority of polls. It comes shortly after NBC News found a majority of American voters have a gun in their home for the first time after a significant surge in gun buying since 2020. President Biden has struggled to win the public’s approval for how he’s handled gun policy, falling as low as 31 percent approval earlier this year, as he’s failed to deliver on most of the restrictions gun-control advocates want and alienated gun owners with the ones he has implemented unilaterally.
While he was able to help pass the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that instituted the first new federal restrictions on who can own a gun in decades thanks to support from more than a dozen Senate Republicans, President Biden has run into greater opposition from elected Republicans–and even some Democrats–as he’s made banning the sale of magazines, AR-15s, and other popular firearms the marquee of his gun policy. Wednesday’s announcement, which followed the establishment of a special gun prevention office headed by Harris and a conference of state lawmakers, is another chance for the White House to push for the same policies on a more limited basis.
The White House plan, named the Safer States Agenda, focuses primarily on new restrictions. It calls on states to adopt a diverse collection of new gun-control measures. Those include bans on “assault weapons” and homemade firearms, magazine limits, “red flag” laws, duplicate state-level firearms dealer licensing, universal background checks, gun storage and lost or stolen gun reporting requirements, as well as liability laws that undermine the protections offered by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
“It’s just reasonable that you might want to know before someone can buy a lethal weapon if they’ve been found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others. You just might want to know,” Vice President Harris said during the conference announcing the agenda. “It’s just reasonable — an assault weapons ban. Because as we all know, it is a weapon that was designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly. It’s a weapon of war. It has no place on the streets of a civil society.”
The plan also calls on states to create their own versions of the federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention. It also advocates for community violence interruption program funding, improving clearance rates in shooting cases, boosting efforts to arrest gun traffickers, and increasing funding for shooting survivors.
“The Safer States Initiative is a White House effort to provide states with more tools and federal support to take life-saving action and reduce gun violence,” the agenda reads. “A key element of the Safer States Initiative is the Safer States Agenda, described below. The agenda is not comprehensive, but highlights actions that states can take to achieve meaningful progress in the next year.”
The White House said it plans to continue working with state lawmakers to develop and implement the policies it put forth on Wednesday.