Biden Outlines New Gun-Control Measures Including On ‘Ghost Guns,’ Arm Braces

White House seeks ways to implement new restrictions, as congressional Republicans and NRA oppose most Democratic proposals. Biden Outlines New Gun-Control Measures Including on ‘Ghost Guns,’ Arm Braces

President Biden outlined a series of actions he said would help curb gun violence, as the White House seeks new ways to work around congressional Republicans who have objected to most Democratic gun proposals.

Mr. Biden said he wants untraceable weapons known as ghost guns that can be made from parts purchased online to be treated as firearms, requiring serial numbers and buyer background checks.

The president also said he wants pistols modified with the kind of arm brace used by the shooter who killed 10 people last month in Boulder, Colo., to be subject to restrictions that require buyers to pay a fee and submit identifying information to the Justice Department. A brace makes a firearm more stable and accurate.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the administration would write proposed rules to address both issues.

The administration also will make $1 billion in grants available to community violence intervention programs, and the Justice Department will issue a report on firearms trafficking, Mr. Garland said.

In another move, Mr. Biden said he will nominate David Chipman, a policy adviser to the gun-control organization Giffords, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, where he previously worked as a special agent for 25 years.

The president was joined in the Rose Garden on Thursday by gun-control advocates in Congress and members of groups that have formed after mass shootings, including at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed in 2012, and in Parkland, Fla., where a 2018 school shooting left 17 dead.

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011 along with 18 others in a Tucson-area supermarket parking lot, also attended the White House event.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” Mr. Biden said. “And it’s an international embarrassment.” He argued his policies won’t infringe on Second Amendment rights, dismissing such criticism as “phony.”

The National Rifle Association has already opposed some of the actions Mr. Biden proposed Thursday, including regulations on arm braces.

“By appointing the anti-gun Merrick Garland as attorney general and nominating David Chipman— formerly a senior staffer at the leading gun-control lobby—to head ATF, Biden has made clear his sights are set on restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners while ignoring criminals and foregoing substantive measures that will actually keep Americans safe,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said.

Gun-control advocates had been urging Mr. Biden to take executive action, and the White House said the steps were only his first such moves.

Mr. Biden repeated calls for Congress to pass more sweeping gun laws and called for gun makers to lose their immunity from lawsuits. “There would be a come to the Lord moment these folks would have, real quickly,” he said, if the industry’s immunity were removed.

His push for gun legislation faces a big challenge in Congress, where for years such measures have been tied up in partisan and ideological fights. Mr. Biden has called for a renewed ban on assault-style weapons, which has stalled in Congress in recent years, and expanded background checks, which has yet to secure the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.

“We’ve made it to base camp,” said Brian Lemek, executive director of Brady PAC, the political arm of Brady, a group focused on reducing gun violence. “We’re really encouraged and excited to see the president honoring his campaign commitments, but we all know there’s more work to be done.”

A push by the progressive Democratic base to upend the Senate’s filibuster rules, which currently require 60 votes to pass most legislation instead of a simple majority, has sputtered amid opposition from some moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has said the Senate, which Democrats narrowly control, will vote on legislation already approved by the House to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales and extend the window for background checks to 10 days from three days. But the background-checks bill currently appears well short of 60 votes, with opponents including Mr. Manchin.

The Senate narrowly blocked legislation in 2013 from Mr. Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) that would have expanded background checks to all commercial sales, including all sales advertised online and at gun shows. Currently, the checks are needed only for sales by federally licensed dealers, though some states have additional requirements.

The broader House bill would expand background checks to nearly all sales but includes exemptions for family members and some temporary transfers while hunting or at a shooting range, for example.

Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Connecticut Democrats, have been working with Republicans to see if they can find a bipartisan compromise around expanding background checks.

Some Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), have said they support expanding background checks on all commercial sales, which would exclude sales among friends and family members.

As part of Thursday’s actions, the Justice Department will also create model “red flag” legislation to make it easier for states to pass their own versions. Such laws allow courts to temporarily remove guns from people deemed dangerous through extreme-risk protection orders.

The idea has some support from lawmakers in both parties, although some Republicans and the NRA have expressed concern about due-process protections for individuals whose access to guns could be blocked.

“I know it’s painful and frustrating that we haven’t made the progress we hoped for,” Mr. Biden said of stalled legislative efforts. “No matter how long it takes, we’re going to get these passed.”

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