Months after the national gun control movement seemingly dissipated with the failure of key bills in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden announced on Thursday two additional executive actions to curb gun crime. According to a statement from the White House, the new steps aim to halt the import of surplus military weapons previously sold or donated to U.S. allies, as well adjusting the policies surrounding the registration of firearms and related items with a trust or corporation. In an address to reporters on Thursday, Biden called the measures “straightforward” and “common sense.”
“The president is going to do everything we can within our executive authority to try and reduce gun violence in America,” Biden said.
The two executive actions are new additions to a list of 23 steps announced by Obama earlier this year. The push for gun control came shortly after the President’s re-election and only weeks after a deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Several states passed their own restrictive gun control packages in early 2013, but national efforts towards background check reform and a ban on “assault weapons” largely lost impetus in April.
“The president and I have said many times that the best way to reduce gun violence in America is for Congress to act on common sense proposals,” Biden said Thursday. “[…] I want you to know that the president and I remain committed to getting these things done. If Congress won’t act, we’ll fight for a new Congress.”
One of the executive actions target firearms previously provided to American allies. These guns are often highly sought after by collectors, and many have called for their import back into the United States for sale to the American public. The White House reports that since 2005, more than 250,000 of these firearms have been authorized for import. Some of these firearms are decades old, such as the thousands of M1 Garand Rifles and M1 Carbines currently in South Korea. President Obama’s new policy will be to deny requests for the import of previously exported military firearms back into the United States, with exceptions made for museums and governmental entities.
The second executive action will require all individuals associated with trusts or corporations used to register items regulated under the National Firearms Act—often referred to as “NFA trusts”—to undergo background checks. The White House alleged that criminals could gain access to weapons such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns by registering weapons with a trust or corporation. Previously, no background checks were required to create or “join” an NFA trust. The ATF issued on Thursday a proposed regulation requiring individuals associated with these entities to undergo background checks.
The National Rifle Association, other Second Amendment groups, and gun owners have criticized the new steps towards gun control that will accomplish nothing and simply inconvenience law-abiding shooters and collectors.
Biden’s address can be viewed below: