The order also asks his Cabinet to develop a proposal for how the federal government can better assist communities after a mass shooting, aiming to mobilize federal resources for human-caused disasters in ways that it does for natural disasters.
Biden is also planning to urge the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report that would analyze how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors.
It all amounts to the latest attempt to use executive authority in an effort to crack down on gun violence, but an effort that falls short of more sweeping congressional legislation. He has continued to call for an assault weapons ban, background checks on all gun sales and repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. But those kinds of bills are unlikely, particularly with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats holding a narrow Senate majority.
The executive order will direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to ensure that firearms sellers who are either flouting the law or may not realize they are required to run background checks are doing so ahead of any firearm purchases.
“The President is directing the Attorney General to move the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation,” according to a White House summary.
That would further clarify a provision of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which he signed last year.
Garland is also being directed to develop and implement a plan to prevent former federally licensed firearms dealers whose licenses have been revoked or surrendered from continuing to sell firearms.
Biden is also directing his Cabinet to raise public awareness around “red flag” laws, which allow someone to petition a court to determine whether someone is dangerous and should have their access to firearms temporarily removed. He also wants more attention on safe storage of guns, so that children or others cannot access firearms.
Still, the efforts Biden will outline aren’t as sweeping as congressional legislation and could be undone by a future administration that disagrees with the policy.
“When you do gun violence policy, you always have to have hope,” said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. “And I think there always is hope.”
“You’ll absolutely hear him call for legislation,” the official added. “But in the meantime, he wants the federal government to be doing all we can with existing authority to reduce gun violence and that’s what this executive order does.”
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