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President Biden issues executive order on gun control

The move comes nine months after the nation's first major gun control legislation in 30 years.

President Joe Biden speaking on Tuesday at The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley in Monterey Park, California. (Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)

Ahead of an expected reelection campaign, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order on firearm purchases and regulation, a long-awaited step in the growing crisis concerning gun violence in the United States.

The announcement came during a visit on Tuesday to Monterey Park, California, where a mass shooter killed eleven people and injured nine others on January 21. The president met with families of the deceased as well as survivors to discuss reform and provide a signal of solidarity.

“Monterey Park is part of a growing list of communities all across the country that are forever changed due to gun violence—not only mass shootings, but also daily acts of gun violence that may not make national headlines,” the administration said in a statement.

“As he continues to call on Congress to act, President Biden will do everything he can to reduce gun violence and save lives.”

One of the main goals of the executive order is to move the United States “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation,” a necessary workaround in a divided Congress and Republican-led House.

It also focuses on those selling firearms in ways that may be illegal, as well as ballistics tracking that may make it easier to trace shooters and assist law enforcement officers.

The new executive order comes 9 months after Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the first major gun legislation in the U.S. in almost three decades. Now as then, Biden’s Democratic allies are heralding the order as the continuation of a new era in gun control.

The move also comes at a crucial time in Biden’s tenure, with Republican messaging on guns and various other hot-button issues ramping up ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Florida media outlets reported earlier this month that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, supported controversial open-carry positions amid a battle in his state’s legislature over a gun bill that could have included such provisions.

Biden, who like DeSantis has yet to officially announce a 2024 campaign, scolded the U.S. Supreme Court last summer for ruling in favor of looser restrictions on open carry in the state of New York—saying it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution.”

Though it does not address open carry laws, the new executive order from Biden prompted praise from Democrat Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York, who called it “historic.”

“Gun violence and mass shootings have affected far too many families around our nation, including in my congressional district. President Biden has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president at this point in their presidency,” said Espaillat, who is also the nation’s lone Black Catholic congressperson.

“It is our moral obligation to stop the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our nation,” he added on Twitter.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger and a seminarian with the Josephites.

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