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President Biden has announced a new set of initiatives through which he hopes to reduce gun violence he has described as “an epidemic” and “an international embarrassment.” Among other things, the ATF will close loopholes in unregulated online sales and so-called “ghost guns,” which can be built or printed without serial numbers or background checks.

Speaking in the White House rose garden on Thursday afternoon, Biden described the many recent mass shootings as gruesome tragedies, but pointed out that more than a hundred people are shot dead every day in that country. “It’s an epidemic, for God’s sake,” he repeated, “and it must end.”

Before presenting his plans to tackle the problem, he made sure to address the inevitable Second Amendment objections from people who believe it is a constitutional right for anyone to own things like assault rifles. .

“Nothing that I’m about to recommend in any way infringes on the Second Amendment,” Biden said. “From the start, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. Since the very beginning of the Second Amendment, some people were not allowed to have guns.

Of course, federal laws often conflict with state laws on this point, resulting in surprising events like heavily armed protesters taking over the Michigan Capitol building – quite legally. But the Feds have a few things up their sleeve.

Background checks and tracking of records involve federal authorities, and there are loopholes that have emerged or worsened in recent years as online gun trafficking has increased (social media is known for the thinly veiled arms trade) and the process of home gun making has become easier. .

“I asked ATF to start working on an updated study of firearms trafficking, which takes into account the fact that modern weapons are no longer simply cast or forged, but can be plastic, printed on a 3D printer or sold in self-assembly kits, ”said United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, who stepped on the podium after Biden. “We will make sure we understand and measure the problem of gun trafficking using data.”

“Ghost guns” was a hot topic a few years ago when several people and organizations, including Defense Distributed, attempted to popularize 3D printed guns and assault rifle components. The high-tech angle has taken the media’s bite out of the media, although, of course, traditional gun trafficking in the form of smuggling and in-person sales overshadows the sheer scale of everything these sites and services provide. .

But gun construction kits represent a significant loophole in ATF regulations, which do not require registration or background checks for them. So a person can get 80% of a gun this way, get the remaining 20% ​​(usually the “receiver” which component qualifies the firearm assembly) by printing or some other method, and have a weapon without serial number or registration. anything.

Garland proposed a rule for the ATF to adopt that would change that and a few other things, such as easy-to-buy modifications for pistols that effectively make them short-barreled rifles; the new rule would require these conversion kits to be registered. This will likely follow the confirmation of ATF’s first director in five years – the post was vacant for the entire last administration – David Chipmen, whom Biden is considering appointing.

The administration’s other efforts include investing $ 5 billion over eight years in community violence intervention programs, pushing for “red flag” laws that temporarily bar people in crisis to get firearms and encouragement to Congress to start working on legislation that will sort things out. the executive cannot.

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