In a Victory for Gun Safety, President Biden Named ATF Director and Announced Life-Saving Executive Actions to Eliminate the Market for Ghost Guns, Address City Gun Violence and Gun Trafficking, and More
Click Here to Read Everytown Support Fund’s Report on Ghost Guns; Everytown Law Represents Syracuse, Chicago and Other Cities in Ongoing Lawsuit Seeking ATF Action on Ghost Guns; Suit Follows 2019 Petition for Rulemaking Urging ATF to Act on Growing Ghost Gun Problem
WASHINGTON –– Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements after President Joe Biden announced that he will take action to address the nation’s gun violence crisis, including by:
- Directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to propose a regulation, within 30 days, to stop the proliferation of deadly, untraceable ghost guns;
- Modifying multiple federal grant programs to increase available funding for community violence intervention programs;
- Publishing a model state red flag law within 60 days;
- Directing DOJ to issue a new, annual comprehensive report on firearms trafficking;
- Directing DOJ to propose a regulation ensuring the stabilizing arm braces that circumvent the law on dangerous short-barrel rifles are subject to the National Firearms Act;
- Nominating David Chipman, a former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and longtime gun owner and gun safety expert, to be the director of the ATF.
Everytown has previously called for these policies, including in its executive action roadmap. We also agree with the President’s calls for Congressional action, and urge the Senate to build on this momentum by passing life-saving background check legislation now.
“Each of these executive actions will start to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to make good on President Biden’s promise to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “In particular, ghost guns allow anyone, anywhere to easily obtain an untraceable firearm, and the Biden administration’s decision to treat them like the deadly weapons they are will undoubtedly save countless lives – as will the critical funding provided to groups that focus on city gun violence. We are also thrilled about the nomination of David Chipman to head the ATF, whose extensive law enforcement experience makes him uniquely qualified for the job. David will be an invaluable point person as this administration looks to fight illegal gun trafficking and end the special treatment of the gun industry. Finally, we are glad to hear the administration’s commitment that today’s actions are just the beginning, and look forward to continuing to work closely with them to end gun violence in this country.”
“This is a huge victory for the gun safety movement and we applaud President Biden for his strong leadership,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “For years, our grassroots volunteers have fought NRA-backed leaders in Washington as they ignored the fact that more than 100 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded every day –– but now, President Biden is making it clear that those days are over. These much-needed executive actions will start saving lives right away, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters looks forward to standing behind President Biden as he urges the Senate to follow his lead and act.”
“I know how dangerous ghost guns are because they took the lives of my friends and classmates, and the reason I was shot and now bear the scar of a .45 caliber bullet on my abdomen. They have now become the weapon of choice for criminals and far right extremists. I’m grateful to President Biden for prioritizing ghost guns and honoring survivors with this announcement,” said Mia Tretta, a Students Demand Action volunteer and gun violence survivor who was shot and wounded by a ghost gun in shooting at Saugus High School in 2019.
These actions are a huge step for gun safety that will save lives, and –– according to the administration –– they are just the beginning of the President’s plan to address gun violence in America.
David Chipman is a gun owner, father, and decorated law enforcement official who served as a special agent for ATF for 25 years and is a true gun safety expert. As an agent, Chipman spent his career in service of ATF’s unique mission of enforcing firearms and explosives laws that protect communities from people perpetuating violence and criminal activities, investigating acts of terrorism, and combating illegal trafficking. He is currently a senior advisor for Giffords, and formerly a member of the Everytown advisory council and a senior advisor at Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Ghost guns –– untraceable, do-it-yourself firearms made from parts available without a background check –– are one of the fastest-growing threats to public safety in the country: In 2019 alone, some 10,000 ghost guns were recovered in the U.S., according to an ATF estimate. In a report released last May, the Everytown Support Fund examined a sample of 80 online ghost gun part sellers and more than 100 federal prosecutions involving ghost guns, finding that ghost guns are easier to buy than ever before and are frequently possessed by those prohibited from owning firearms, tied to criminal activity, and used by white supremacists, convicted felons, and minors. Everytown Law first urged ATF to address the growing menace of unregulated ghost guns in a petition for rulemaking filed back in December 2019, and followed that up with a lawsuit against ATF filed in August 2020, brought on behalf of Everytown as well as Syracuse, NY; San Jose, CA; Chicago, IL; and Columbia, SC.
The actions come during Everytown’s “Road Trip for Background Checks,” a 10-day series of volunteer-driven road trip events taking place across the country, all headed toward Washington D.C., in order to call for U.S. Senators to pass background check legislation. At stops along seven different routes across the country, a bipartisan group of volunteers, gun violence survivors, gun owners, veterans, faith leaders, and elected leaders will decorate a mural and collect personal stories, photos of loved ones killed by gun violence, and letters to Congress. The mural and messages will be driven or delivered from stop-to-stop, state-to-state, over ten days, and then assembled in Washington D.C. and delivered in person to Senators on Capitol Hill. The Road Trip, which is paired with digital and TV ad spending, will demonstrate the broad, bipartisan coalition supporting background check legislation by including at least 22 geographically and politically diverse states (see a complete map here). Ninety-three percent of Americans –– including 89% of Republicans and 89% of gun owners –– support legislation to expand background checks.