1 min ago

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden called gun violence in the United States a “public health crisis” and an “epidemic.” 

He added that the number of mass shootings in America are an "international embarrassment."

Biden also addressed critics of gun reform, saying none of his executive actions will contradict the Constitution.

"Nothing, nothing I'm about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment. They're phony arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we're talking about. But no amendment, no amendment to the Constitution is absolute," he said.
2 min ago
Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Ahead of President Biden introducing his actions on gun control, Vice President Kamala Harris said people on "both sides of the aisle want action" and noted her own experience with gun violence cases as a prosecutor.

"I have fought my entire career to end this violence and to pass reasonable gun safety laws. Time and again, as progress has stalled, we have all asked — what are we waiting for? Because we aren't waiting for a tragedy. I know that," Harris said.

"We've had more tragedy than we can bear. We aren't waiting for solutions either because the solutions exist. They already exist. People on both sides of the aisle want action, real people on both sides of the aisle want action. So all that is left is the will and the courage to act," she continued.

Harris touted Biden's executive actions today, and his record battling the gun lobby.

"President Biden is a leader with great will, great determination and even greater empathy," she said. "He has seen the grief of all of those who have lost a loved one to gun violence. It is for them, for all of us, that he will never, ever give up on this fight."

14 min ago

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Pool
Pool

Vice President Kamala Harris is delivering remarks on gun violence prevention from the White House Rose Garden alongside President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Biden is set to unveil a package of moves that seek to address gun violence, including:

  • Tightening restrictions on "ghost guns" (handmade or self-assembled firearms that don't have serial numbers) and pistol-stabilizing braces that allow weapons to be used more accurately.
  • Directing the Department of Justice to model "red flag" laws for states that allow the temporary removal of guns from people deemed at high risk of harming themselves or others and a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking
  • Investing in intervention programs in violence-prone communities

Administration officials have emphasized the announcements only amount to the first steps toward addressing gun violence, with later action — like a ban on assault weapons or rules requiring universal background checks — requiring Congress.

Biden, who is in the midst of advancing a massive infrastructure plan, has voiced uncertainty on the likelihood of passing major new gun laws.

The announcements come as the President is also expected to nominate David Chipman as the next director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a White House official told CNN.

26 min ago

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

President Biden's steps on gun control are also expected to include nominating a gun control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The President is expected to nominate David Chipman as the next director of the bureau, a White House official told CNN.

If confirmed, Chipman will lead the agency that enforces gun laws at a critical point in Biden's early tenure, as the President looks to take fresh action on the issue in the wake of two deadly shootings last month.

"I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future," Biden said last month. The President plans to announce new executive actions on guns Thursday.

Chipman, if confirmed, would return to the agency where he worked for 25 years as a special agent.

While at the ATF, he "disrupted firearms trafficking operations in Virginia that were supplying illegal guns to New York City, served as a member of ATF's version of SWAT, and was named the Special Agent in Charge of ATF's Firearms Programs," according to his bio on the website for Giffords.

He currently serves as a senior policy adviser at the organization led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun control advocate after being shot in 2011

She praised Chipman as "the perfect choice" for director in a statement Wednesday.

"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives needs a strong, experienced leader and I am confident that David Chipman will be just that. As a former ATF special agent, from day one David will be able to address the most pressing issues facing the bureau, including reducing gun violence in this country," said Giffords, who had represented an Arizona district.

Chipman, a Detroit native, received an undergraduate degree from American University and a master's degree in management from Johns Hopkins University.

The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

32 min ago

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez

This November 2019 file photo shows "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco.
This November 2019 file photo shows "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco. Haven Daley/AP

President Biden is expected to direct his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns today.

Here are key things to know about them:

  • Ghost guns are handmade or self-assembled firearms
  • They don't have serial numbers
  • Some can be fabricated in as little as 30 minutes using kits and parts purchased online

Biden will direct the Justice Department to issue a proposed rule to "stop the proliferation" of those weapons, though a senior administration official previewing the step declined to elaborate on how specifically the rule — due in 30 days — might work.

The move is in line with recommendations from gun safety advocacy groups who are consulting with the White House, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence.

Biden's actions come amid mounting pressure to act in the wake of two mass killings about a week apart, totaling 18 dead.

While campaigning, Biden had said he would task his attorney general with instituting better enforcement of existing gun laws as a means of slowing gun violence. He also made a campaign pledge to send $900 million for community programs meant to combat violence, something the administration is sorting out how to fulfill.

Gun safety advocates say that the Biden administration can take action almost immediately to address several of these issues.

16 min ago

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny

Mourners place flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the attack outside the King Soopers grocery store on March 24, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. 
Mourners place flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the attack outside the King Soopers grocery store on March 24, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado.  Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

President Biden used the latest mass shooting last month to offer his most vocal push for gun control since taking office, saying the deaths of 10 people at a grocery store in Colorado should jolt Washington and the nation into action.

It was a message past presidents have also wielded to disappointing results.

But Biden — who has a lengthy and mixed record on the issue — signaled he was ready to press for legislation even as he balances other priorities in Congress.

In somber remarks from the White House State Dining Room, he said he would do everything in his power to keep Americans safe and pushed a pair of House-passed gun reforms, including a universal background checks measure and an assault weapons ban.

The President had made no mention of gun control in the aftermath of the Atlanta shooting — including during remarks after visiting the city — choosing to focus instead on a recent spate of violent crimes committed against Asian-Americans.

But he faced increasing pressure to voice an opinion on the matter after the subsequent mass killing in Colorado.

Some more background: As the nation's posture on guns has evolved, Biden has been front-and-center at most every stop along the way for more than three decades, from the triumph of a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994 to the disappointment of a failed push for universal background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

But now Biden commands a bully pulpit that he's never had in the debate over guns in America, facing the challenge of how — or whether — to wield the power of the White House to try and make some type of gun reform legislation a reality.

The shootings in Georgia and Colorado come in the first chapter of his presidency, prompting a discussion inside the West Wing over how much political capital Biden should expend on the matter, which has so often ended in frustration. But the debate comes at a time when the powerful gun lobby is divided and weakened, creating what some allies see as a possible opening for Biden.

57 min ago

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

March For Our Lives, the youth-led gun violence prevention organization that formed in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018, welcomed President Biden’s initial actions on gun violence prevention, but is asking the President to take further measures against guns, the group said in a statement Thursday.

“After struggling to be seen, heard and valued by the former administration, President Biden’s executive actions to address gun violence are a welcomed pivot toward human-centered policies that will create a safer society. Young people have called for bold, forceful action to end this crisis and we are encouraged to see the administration begin to fulfill some of its campaign promises, especially in the wake of a series of preventable gun tragedies,” March For Our Lives said.

March For Our Lives says it is encouraged that Biden is addressing everyday gun violence during his first 100 days in office by planning to invest in intervention programs in violence-prone communities and tighten restrictions on so-called “ghost guns.” 

But the group has also asked Biden to take further executive actions to close the “boyfriend loophole” — to prohibit dating partners convicted of assault or stalking from purchasing firearms — is calling on Biden to place more accountability on gun manufacturers and has asked Biden to appoint a Director of Gun Violence Prevention.

“Biden’s executive actions are a critical step forward to treating the gun violence epidemic as a public health crisis,” Daud Mumin, 19-year-old student board member of March For Our Lives, told CNN.

Following the tragic school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and faculty members dead in 2018, March For Our Lives has grown into a student-led movement with over 300 chapters across the country.

50 min ago

From CNN's Chauncey Alcorn

The FBI conducted more background checks for firearms purchases in March — a month in which several prominent mass shootings reignited America's conversation about gun control — than they have in any month so far this year.

About 4.7 million Americans initiated gun background checks last month — a 36% increase from February, according to the FBI.

More than two million of those checks were for new gun purchases, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, the firearms industry trade group that compares FBI background check numbers with actual sales data to determine its sales figures.

The new guns purchased in March make it the second highest month on record for firearms sales, according to NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva, who said the threat of looming gun control legislation was the catalyst for last months sales surge.

NSSF data shows last month's sales were surpassed only by the estimated 2.3 million guns sold in March 2020, when the spread of Covid-19 have caused Americans to horde guns and bullets in addition to toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

"It is clear that firearm sales in March were driven by gun control calls from politicians to ban entire classes of firearms and enact onerous gun laws," Oliva told CNN Business via email Thursday afternoon.

58 min ago

From CNN's Jessica Dean, Ali Zaslav and Daniella Diaz

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Democrats say they will move forward on new gun legislation, promising to bring a bill expanding background checks on all firearm sales to the floor for a vote, despite the uphill climb ahead to garner the 60 votes needed for it to pass.

The promise for a Senate vote came after the House passed two pieces of legislation expanding background checks on March 11.

"H.R. 8 will be on the floor of the Senate and we will see where everybody stands," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would expand background checks for all firearm sales or transfers in the country. "No more thoughts and prayers. A vote is what we need. A vote."

Getting the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster on the bill remains a difficult feat, despite optimism from one of the bill's sponsors.

"I don't think we should accept that there aren't 60 votes in the Senate for universal background checks," Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat of Connecticut said last month. "So much has changed. The political power of the anti-gun violence movement is infinitely stronger, the (National Rifle Association) is a shell of itself, and so I've had a lot of Republican members come to me and express their willingness to take a new look."

Schumer acknowledged the possibility the vote will fail.

Still, Democrats see this as an opportunity to get Republicans on the record with their votes against background checks, which remain a popular idea among Americans.

In Oct. 2019, Pew reported that "large majorities in both parties continue to favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks."

In remarks following the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, President Biden called on Congress to take steps like re-enacting an assault weapons ban. 

"I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act," Biden said.