President Joe Biden is done waiting for Congress to do something to reduce gun violence in the U.S. On March 14, Biden will announce an Executive Order to strengthen background checks for guns, increase the use of “red flag” laws, and impose other measures to help keep guns “out of dangerous hands,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden is expected to deliver the Executive Order during his visit to Monterey Park, Calif., where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting in January. Only two months into 2023, the U.S. has already had over 100 mass shootings, CNN reports.
What are the requirements to purchase a gun in the U.S.?
The requirements to purchase a gun differ in each state. California and New Jersey currently have the strictest gun laws. Both states rank among the states with the lowest gun rate deaths, according to World Population Review.
In California, you can only buy a gun through a licensed firearms dealer. Buyers must be at least 21 years old and submit to a background check and mandatory ten-day waiting period.
Criminal background checks are required by federal law for all guns sold by licensed firearms dealers. However, that law doesn’t apply to guns sold by unlicensed sellers. About 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted state laws requiring background checks for all gun sales. That leaves 29 states that don’t require background checks for gun purchases.
What’s changing for gun buyers with Biden’s Executive Order?
President Biden’s Executive Order moves the country closer to enacting universal background checks for gun sales. The White House says Biden will continue to push Congress to pass universal background check legislation. Meanwhile, the Executive Order directs the U.S. Attorney General to “do everything he can” to ensure licensed gun dealers follow the existing federal law requiring background checks.
Biden’s order will also crack down on those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms, the White House says. Firearms dealers who have had their licenses revoked or surrendered will be prohibited from selling guns.
Biden also wants to accelerate the implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which he signed into law last year. That law aims to cut down on gun dealers who illegally evade federal licensing requirements by clarifying which dealers need to register and conduct background checks.
How will Biden’s Executive Order impact 'red flag' laws?
Biden’s order increases the appropriate use of “red flag” laws. "Red flag" laws enable family members, doctors, and law enforcement officials to petition a state court to take away a person’s guns for up to a year if they think the person may harm themselves or other people. Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted "red flag" laws.
"Red flag" laws are only effective if the public knows how to use them, the White House says. So, Biden’s order directs members of his cabinet to partner with law enforcement, healthcare providers, and other community leaders to improve awareness of the laws and promote safe storage of firearms.