White House

White House Exploring Executive Action on Gun Control: Report

President Joe Biden speaks about the mass shooting in Colorado from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 23, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The White House is privately considering taking executive action on gun control, including strengthening background checks and increasing community anti-violence funding, according to a new report.

The administration has been toying with the idea of taking executive action on firearms for weeks, according to the Washington Post, though it has faced renewed calls for gun legislation in the wake of a week that saw two mass shootings in the United States.

The White House is also considering regulating “ghost guns” which are devices assembled at home and lacking serial numbers, making them more difficult to track.

The report comes as Biden on Tuesday publicly called for tighter gun laws after a gunman opened fire in a Boulder, Colo. grocery store, killing ten people, including Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley. 

In a public address on Tuesday, Biden proposed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and an expansion of background checks during gun sales. 

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

He signaled he might offer new legislation to supplement two bills that have already passed the House, which are aimed at closing loopholes gun background-check system.

Though Biden had pledged on the campaign trail to send a bill to Congress on his first day in office repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers and closing background-check loopholes, that promise never came to fruition.

However, administration officials rebuked claims that they had not focused on gun control.

“We are certainly considering a range of levers, including working through legislation, including executive actions to address not just gun safety measures, but violence in communities,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “So that is — has been under discussion and will continue to be under discussion.”

Gun legislation will be a tough sell in the evenly divided Senate, though: even if every Democratic senator supported a measure, at least ten Republican votes would be needed in order to pass the evenly divided chamber.

Democrats including Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Representative Jason Crow (Colo.), Representative David Cicilline (R.I.), and Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Malcolm Kenyatta have used the shootings to call for an end the 60-vote threshold required to pass most legislation in the Senate.

“Things won’t get better until Democrats get rid of the filibuster and finally pass gun safety legislation that a huge majority of Americans support,” Warren wrote in a tweet. “What are we waiting for – another tragedy?”

However, because Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, has opposed the two House bills as too far-reaching, Democrats would not even have the votes to pass the legislation by a simple majority.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recalled a failed attempt to push gun legislation in 2019 after two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, but he said, “This Democratic Senate will be different.”

Yet Schumer would not promise that any specific legislation would pass.

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