By Michael Clements
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on March 14 to advance gun-control measures, including a step toward universal background checks, as much as current law will allow without requiring new legislation.
Biden announced the order in a speech at the site of a Jan. 21, 2023 mass shooting that killed 11 and wounded nine.
The order increases the number of background checks before firearm sales to get “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation,” according to a White House fact sheet.
The executive order promotes the expanded use of “red flag” laws, scrutiny of the gun industry, and the ability to identify and apprehend shooters. Biden will also ask the Federal Trade Commission to issue a report on the marketing of firearms to children.
According to the White House, this would be accomplished by increased enforcement of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Act). The Act will be especially instrumental in implementing at least two of Biden’s most controversial plans.
The Act would increase the number of required background checks by redefining the term “who is engaged in the business of dealing firearms.” Currently, the law considers someone engaged in the business of dealing firearms if it is their “principal objective of livelihood and profit.” The Act would change that to “predominately earn a profit.”
Critics of the change say this would encompass most private sales between individuals, which currently do not require a background check.
The executive order will also instruct federal officials to promote so-called “Red Flag Laws.” These laws have so far been adopted in 19 states and the District of Columbia. They allow for the confiscation of firearms from individuals determined to be dangerous by the court.
Biden claims such laws will prevent mass shootings like that in Monterey Park, Calif, on Jan. 21, 2023.
That shooting began in the Star Dance Studio and ended when an employee at another dance studio, Brandon Tsay, 26, took the shooter’s rifle and turned it on him. The 72-year-old shooter was later found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot.
Detractors say Red Flag Laws deny individuals their constitutional due process rights by confiscating their property before any crime has been committed.
The executive order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to issue a report on how gun manufacturers market to children, requires federal officials to report on gun dealers who break the law, requires stricter reporting of firearms that are lost or stolen in shipping, and for the federal government to provide assistance after a shooting similar to the aid made available after a natural disaster.