The Justice Department on Monday announced two proposals to curb gun violence, one targeting the weapons themselves while the other focuses on mental health, as the Biden administration moves to close regulatory loopholes.
The department proposed restrictions on stabilizing braces that transform a pistol into a short-barreled rifle so it can fire at a faster rate from the shoulder. Under the proposal, the stabilizing braces must comply with height requirements, making them harder to conceal.
In addition, the DOJ released proposed model legislation for states to use to enact so-called red flag laws. The laws would allow family members, law enforcement, school officials and even health care providers to intervene and petition a court to take away a gun from an individual who may pose a threat to themselves and others.
“The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Today we continue to deliver on our promise to help save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. We welcome the opportunity to work with communities in the weeks and months ahead in our shared commitment to end gun violence.”
Gun owners can purchase equipment to convert a pistol into a short-barrel rifle, enabling them to skip the background checks and registration requirements normally required for the firearm.
The Justice Department says the background checks are a critical public safety measure because it regulates the transfer of such weapons.
A mass shooter in Boulder, Colorado, this year used a pistol converted into a short-barrel rifle to kill five people inside a grocery store.
Red flag laws are a controversial measure that has been debated across the nation. Indiana, Connecticut, Florida and other states have enacted such laws, but efforts to create federal red flag laws have failed to garner support.
Gun control advocates say the measure takes weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. A study in Connecticut found that for every 10 weapons seized, one fewer person took their own life.
But a similar study carried out by gun rights activist John Lott concluded the laws have not reduced shooting deaths or suicides. Gun rights groups say the measures are just another opportunity for the government to deprive people of their civil liberties.
The two new proposals are the most recent efforts by the Justice Department to crack down on gun violence and come after a particularly violent weekend across the nation.
Last month, the Justice Department proposed a rule that would reclassify the definition of a firearm to close the regulatory loophole that allows people to make guns without a serial number, known as ghost guns.