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Lawmakers push Biden Administration on further action to combat gun violence

Rebecca Barnabi
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U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger is leading a 68-member effort encouraging President Joe Biden to take further actions to combat gun violence and limit the sale of assault weapons.

The lawmakers laid out a list of actions for the Biden Administration to take in its push to reduce gun violence in the United States. In March 2023, Biden issued an executive order to address gun violence, which included directing the U.S. Secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further public safety practices during U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) firearm acquisition. The order also directed the U.S. Attorney General to publicly release information about dealers who have violated federal firearm laws. This year is on track to be the deadliest year for mass shootings in recent American history with nearly 500 mass shootings since January.

The letter is supported by members of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, and lists additional policy proposals the Biden Administration could undertake as part of its push to address gun violence through executive action. The actions are endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords and Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

“We commend the important steps your Administration has recently taken on this issue, including steps to expand the scope of dealers required to conduct background checks, increase public access to information about dealers who violate the law, and more,” Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement officer, and 67 of her colleagues wrote. “Nevertheless, the American people expect the federal government to use every possible tool to reduce gun violence. Congress must act — and it is an ongoing tragedy that Republican leadership refuses to do so. We also believe you can exercise your executive authority to take additional action to address gun violence without congressional action.”

The letter continues: “These proposals are just examples of the additional actions your Administration can take to reduce gun violence and protect our communities from the next mass shooting. With Republicans in Congress refusing to act, the American people are relying on your Administration to ensure that they can move through their daily lives without fear of firearms on the streets, in public establishments, and in their homes.”

Proposed policies include:

  • Instructing DoD and other federal agencies that purchase firearms to implement standards for procuring taxpayer-funded firearms only from manufacturers that agree to adopt a code of conduct. The code of conduct could include declining to sell military-grade weapons to civilians and only selling to responsible dealers who refuse to proceed with a sale without a completed background check — even when they are legally authorized to do so.
  • Reevaluating the list of guns eligible for import under the “sporting purposes” exception, which could significantly reduce the import of dangerous assault weapons.
  • Transferring authority over assault rifle exports back to the State Department from the Commerce Department, reversing the Trump Administration’s shift of authority to Commerce — which allowed a surge in exports of these deadly weapons.
  • Encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to issue a policy statement on “unfair or deceptive” gun ads that falsely assert that firearm ownership increases household residents’ physical safety from gun violence.
  • Directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its interpretation of the Tiahrt Amendment to expand the types of firearm trace data that can be released to the public — including to researchers, litigants and journalists.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.