Biden Asks the Pentagon to Use Its Buying Power to Advance Gun Safety Goals
This is part of a new executive order issued as the president visits a community in California that suffered a mass shooting in January.
As part of a new push to reduce gun violence, the president is directing the Defense Department to establish new practices for acquiring firearms.
President Biden issued an executive order on Tuesday in conjunction with his trip to Monterey Park, California, where 11 people were killed and nine were injured in a mass shooting in January. Last year, Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in almost three decades, but has been calling on Congress to do more.
“It is the policy of my administration that executive departments and agencies will pursue every legally available and appropriate action to reduce gun violence,” Biden said in the executive order. While waiting on more efforts from Congress, “my administration will continue to do all that we can, within existing authority, to make our communities safer.”
As one part of this effort, the executive order will “use the Department of Defense’s acquisition of firearms to further firearm and public safety practices,” a fact sheet from the White House stated. “The Department of Defense buys a large number of firearms and other weapons to protect and serve our country,” the fact sheet continued. “The president is directing the secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further firearm and public safety practices through Department of Defense acquisition of firearms, consistent with applicable law.”
Jeff Jurgensen, a spokesperson for the Defense Department, told Government Executive, “given the department’s significant role in the acquisition of firearms, we are fully committed to developing and implementing principles to further public safety practices. Additionally, “although we have no specifics to announce today, we’ll update you regarding future actions the department may take in support of this important effort.”
Other parts of the executive order include directing the attorney general “to move the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation by clarifying, as appropriate;” the Transportation and Justice departments to work to reduce the theft and loss of firearms during shipping; and members of the Cabinet to create a proposal on how the federal government can better help communities following a mass shooting and note what other resources the executive branch would need from Congress. This proposal is due by September 15.
Unlike a hurricane or other natural disaster “no coordinated U.S. government mechanism exists to meet short- and long-term needs,” said the White House.
This comes as the president’s budget proposal, released last week, calls for almost $2 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to expand its multijurisdictional gun trafﬁcking strike forces to increase its regulation of the firearms industry and implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.