On Tuesday, President Biden is visiting Monterey Park, California—where 11 people were shot dead and another nine were injured amid a Lunar New Year Festival. At the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the history of Los Angeles County, Biden will sign an executive order seeking to increase the level of background checks conducted before gun sales.
The order will also direct his Cabinet to develop a plan for how the government can better support communities suffering from gun violence. The Cabinet is ordered to raise public awareness surrounding “red flag” laws, which allow people to ask a court to determine whether someone is dangerous and merits having their guns temporarily confiscated.
Another plank of the plan calls for Attorney General Merrick Garland to elevate focus on rules for federally licensed gun dealers, ensuring the dealers are compliant with background check requirements. Biden also directs Garland to develop and implement a program to stop dealers whose licenses have been revoked or surrendered from continuing to sell guns.
Biden’s order also calls for enhanced reporting of ballistics data on a federal, state, and local law enforcement level; currently, local and state law enforcement agencies are not required to report such data. The mandate’s aim is to strengthen a federal clearinghouse that helps law enforcement agencies match shell casings to guns.
Biden is also asking the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report that analyzes how manufacturers market guns to minors.
The order is not so much an expansion of new regulation as a move to more properly carry out standing rules. It follows the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which passed last year after two shootings in May: one at a school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead; the other a racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead.
The bill—though called “bipartisan,” it only had the support of 15 Republican senators and 14 Republican House members—focused more on mental health and school safety programs. The gun regulation aspect of the bill focused mainly on expanding background checks for gun purchasers under the age of 21 and attempting to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” disqualifying anyone found guilty of a domestic violence charge in a romantic relationship from purchasing firearms, regardless of marital status.
Biden’s direction is a welcome one. But until there’s a more meaningful crackdown on guns themselves, and until Republicans are not allowed to keep posturing as standing behind “commonsense” gun reforms while mostly not voting for even the most basic policies, people will keep dying.