President Joe Biden is expected on Thursday to start rolling out executive actions regulating guns after a slew of mass shootings early in his White House tenure put pressure on the longtime advocate for gun restrictions to act.
The announcement is expected to include a presidential declaration that could ultimately require people who buy untraceable, self-assembled “ghost guns” to undergo a background check, said one person familiar with the situation.
The measure is one of several the administration has been working on for months to try to limit gun violence without starting a legal battle that could lead to courts quickly dismantling the policies.
More than 100 House Democrats wrote to Biden last week, according to Politico, urging him to take action on concealed assault-style firearms similar to the one used in the Colorado shooting in which 10 people were killed.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed on Wednesday that Biden would address the issue on Thursday but declined to give details.
The president faces stiff opposition from millions of gun owners, and from gun advocacy groups, who are vigorously opposed to any action perceived as infringing on the Second Amendment.
It’s not just gun advocates assailing Biden on the hot-button issue. As Politico reported, a recent poll found that 57 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Biden has handled gun violence, with opposition from both parties; 42 percent approved.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has said more than 30% of the illegal weapons it has confiscated in some areas of California are “ghost guns” but they are not currently regulated as firearms that require background checks.
Mass shootings last month in Georgia and Colorado have put pressure on the White House to act, as swift legislation is not likely to pass through Congress.
Gun control activists have been invited to a White House event on Thursday, according to a different person familiar with the matter. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
“The president will have more to say tomorrow,” Psaki told reporters.
Later she confirmed to reporters that Biden had chosen David Chipman, a former ATF special agent, to serve as the agency’s director. Gun control activists and some of Biden’s fellow Democrats in Congress had pleaded with the White House to name a person to the post.
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