With gun reform legislation being sluggish to come about, The White House has stepped in and issued two new executive orders as a means to stamp down gun violence in the U.S. The new orders will be added to the original 23 executive measures issued by President Obama following the Sandy Hook shooting. The executive orders were announced as part of the swearing in of a new ATF Director.
New York City Police Seize Over 250 Street Firearms
The first of the two measures closes the loophole that allows for felons and other people who would otherwise be prohibited from purchasing and owning guns to register their firearms with corporations or trusts. These two entities are exempt from having to do background checks. This order also requires people working with a trust or corporation who manage to get firearms to receive background checks.
Prior to today’s swearing in of new ATF Director B. Todd Jones, Vice President Joe Biden pointed out that this gap allowed for felons and other people barred from owning and purchasing guns a way of skirting past background checks. The measure would patch up this opening.
The second measure targets military-grade weaponry and the need to keep them off the streets. It would prohibit private businesses from re-importing guns that the U.S originally gave to allied forces overseas. The current law on the books requires government approval before weapons can be brought back into the country. As of 2005, some 250,000 re-imported weapons have returned to the U.S, according to the White House’s numbers. There’s no estimate as to how many of those manage to hit the streets.
Vice President Biden pointed out that prior to 2005, this wasn’t an occurrence. He also said that the measure would put a stop to re-importation which sees military-grade arms end up with private entities. The executive order will feature an improved policy of denying requests to return the arms to the United States. It was also noted that private entities—such as museums—would be exempt from the measure.
Other measures that were included in the original 23 saw the Obama administration require more in-depth background checks, bans on military-grade assault weapons, and limitations on magazine sizes. The roadblock here is that these measures required congressional approval and were really announced at the wrong time and with the wrong Congress if he wanted movement on legislature. This left executive orders as the only option to get anything moving on this front.
In driving home the administration’s commitment to getting gun reform pushed through, Vice President Biden stated “If Congress won’t act we’ll fight for a new Congress. It’s that simple. But we’re going to get this done.”
Following the introductions of the new executive orders, Vice President Biden swore in B. Todd Jones to the post of Director of The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This marks the first time since 2006 that the agency has had a permanent director since 2006. The assignment of a permanent director had been blocked due to candidates being turned down.
Prior to assuming office today, Jones served as acting director for over two years starting August 2011. He took the post after his predecessor Ken Melson resigned following the controversy surrounding the flubbed Fast and Furious gun-walking operation. Todd finished up his time as acting director after being cleared by the Senate on July 31 with a fairly close vote of 53-42.
Director Todd said that, “Today is a historic day for the ATF. The agency is now in line with its sister components and has been given the respect it deserves as a federal law enforcement agency with a permanent director.”