- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2023

President Biden on Tuesday will sign an executive order aimed at increasing gun background checks, bolstering mandates on safe gun storage and redefining who qualifies as a firearms dealer.

Mr. Biden will sign the order in Monterey Park, California, a Los Angeles suburb where 11 people were killed in January at a Lunar New Year celebration.

The executive order would direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to clarify the statutory definition of who is engaged in the business of selling firearms. A sweeping bipartisan gun law Mr. Biden signed last year granted the Justice Department the authority to define who qualifies as a firearms dealer.

Under the order, the administration would likely expand who is qualified as a firearms dealer, which would make more people who sell firearms at venues such as gun shows required to perform background checks on gun buyers.

“This news would mean fewer guns will be sold without background checks, and therefore fewer guns will end up in the hands of felons and domestic abusers,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters ahead of the order.

Gun rights advocates are expected to challenge the order in court. They say Mr. Biden is focused on the wrong problem. They argue the nation needs tougher laws to crack down on crime, not targeting lawful gun owners.

Joe Biden is signing more ‘gun control’ exec. orders today to attack our Second Amendment rights. We have a Crime Crisis because leftist DAs catch-and-release & refuse to prosecute criminals. The left wants to Defund The Police & disarm law-abiding citizens. We must DEFEND 2A,” Rep. Mary Miller, Illinois Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, described the order as the latest chapter in Mr. Biden‘s “war on gun rights.”

“It is a diversion to the Democrat failure to keep Americans safe from violent criminals who are released without bail and are free to prey on us all,” he said in a statement.

The FBI carried out 31.5 million background checks last year and, so far, 2022 seems to be on roughly the same pace. The official did not say how many more background checks would be conducted under the executive order.

Mr. Biden is also mandating a more thorough collection of ballistics data from federal law enforcement agencies. The agencies would be more stringently required to match shell casings to guns. However, the order will not require state and local law enforcement agencies to report ballistics data, which would make the clearinghouse more effective.

The order also requires the Federal Trade Commission to compile a report examining how gun manufacturers market firearms, including to minors.

It also urges members of Biden’s Cabinet to promote so-called red flags, which remove guns from people deemed to be an extreme risk. The laws have been implemented in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

The order also calls for more stringent rules for the storage of guns in the home.

Gun control advocates hailed Mr. Biden‘s order as a first step toward achieving universal background checks for firearms purchases.

“Addressing gun violence will take more than one solution and these executive orders will go a long way in preventing tragedies that killed over 40,000 people in America each year,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and gun owners alike support expanding Brady Background Checks for gun purchases.”

John Fienblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, called the executive order a “home run for public safety.”

“This is the latest example of President Biden‘s leadership on gun safety, and we’re proud to stand with him as he takes robust action to help close the gun-seller loophole — which will significantly expand background checks on gun sales, keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Biden in recent months has increased his rhetoric for stronger gun laws amid an epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. He has repeatedly called for banning assault weapons and pushed for other changes.

His executive order power will only go so far. The newly GOP-controlled House of Representatives is unlikely to take up any more gun bills after the bipartisan bill passed last year. That bill also expanded background checks, closed a domestic violence loophole, and increased funding for youth mental health services.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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