Biden to Announce Sweeping Gun-Control Restrictions

Executive orders will regulate unfinished gun parts

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April 7, 2021

President Joe Biden will announce a series of executive actions to institute gun-control measures Thursday. 

Biden will pursue a policy restricting homemade firearms, according to a report from Politico. He will direct his administration to find a way to regulate unfinished firearms parts the same way as functioning guns. The goal will be to require buyers of unfinished parts to go through background checks before finalizing their purchase. 

Biden will reportedly frame the measures as a response to recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado. Homemade guns were not used in either event. There are no details on how Biden plans to regulate unfinished firearm parts, but his administration may face an uphill battle given recent court rulings against how the ATF regulates AR-15 parts.  

Federal law regulates the "receiver" of a firearm the same way as a fully assembled gun, but the definition of what constitutes a "receiver" can be complicated by firearm design. If the Biden administration attempts to broaden the definition of what constitutes a firearm "receiver," it could face significant legal challenges from Second Amendment advocates. President Donald Trump's unilateral action redefining bump stocks as "machine guns" under federal law in response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, a similar action to the one Biden is expected to order, was quashed in federal court in March. Federal prosecutors have dropped several cases in recent years as judges indicated the ATF's definition of an AR-15 "receiver" is too broad. 

Politico reported Biden could announce additional actions beyond regulating homemade firearms but did not provide details. 

Biden has promised unilateral action on gun control since he began his campaign for president. At the end of March, after failing to include gun control in his historic number of executive orders upon taking office, he told reporters he would implement unilateral gun-control measures. "It's a matter of timing," Biden said. 

Biden has faced backlash from gun-control advocates for the delay in action. He has also faced criticism for not including minority groups in gun-control conversations at the White House. March For Our Lives and the Community Justice Action Fund slammed Biden in late February for walking back his promises to gun-control groups. 

"We want to fight back and change the systems that have kept young people, Black people, and other people of color out of the conversation," Bria Smith, a March For Our Lives board member, said at the time. "Our stories are not just for consumption. We want to see action from this administration, including meaningful connections with BIPOC communities to honor the grief of gun violence victims." 

The president is expected to make the announcement at the White House alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland.