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“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment.”
President Joe Biden and his Attorney General Merrick Garland announced limited measures to tackle gun violence in the United States on Thursday, in what the White House described as a first step to curb mass shootings, community bloodshed and suicides.
"Everything that's being proposed today is totally consistent with the Second Amendment. And there's a wide consensus on the need to take action. [FLASH] The idea that we have so many people dying every day is a blemish of our character as a nation."
Speaking in the Rose Garden to an audience filled with family members and victims of gun violence, Biden said the new measures include plans for the Justice Department to crack down on self-assembled “ghost guns.”
"There are guns that homemade. Built from a kit that include directions on how to finish the firearm. You can go buy the kit. They have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene they can't be traced."
The measures would also make “stabilizing braces” - which effectively turn pistols into rifles - subject to registration under the National Firearms Act.
Biden said he will also ask the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to release an annual report on firearms trafficking in the United States, and make it easier for states to adopt “red flag” laws that flag at-risk individuals who own guns.
The president also said that removing immunity from gun markers would be a top priority.
Biden has a long history of advocating for gun restrictions, but has come under pressure to step up action after recent mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia. The president said Thursday’s measures were a starting point.
"We should also ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in this country. For that tens years we had it done, the number of mass shootings actually went down."
While Biden's executive actions do not meet all of his campaign promises - any legislative solution in the 50-50 split Senate is next to impossible. But the White House says the president will continue to push for Congress to take more aggressive steps.
"They've offered many thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they've passed not a single federal law to reduce gun violence. Enough prayers, time for some action."
Republican lawmakers have completely blocked recent attempts to enact any form of gun control on the federal level. Ahead of Biden's announcement House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted the measures would "trample over our constitutional 2a rights by executive fiat" and that he "won’t stand for it."