US President Joe Biden issued an order targeting homemade weapons, one day after a mass shooting in South Carolina that killed a doctor and his family.
“Armed violence in this country is an epidemic, and it is something that causes us international embarrassment,” he said on Thursday.
The president enacts new measures through executive orders, which means he does not need approval from Congress.
The measures seek to establish rules for specific weapons, strengthen background checks and support the prevention of domestic violence.
A White House official said that Biden launched a campaign targeting what is known as “invisible weapon”, as part of a new set of measures to confront armed violence.
Wednesday’s attack in South Carolina, which killed five people, including two children, followed two shootings in March that killed a total of 18 people – one in Boulder, Colorado and the other in Atlanta, Georgia.
But the president still has an arduous task, as the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. Many citizens believe that the restrictions on carrying weapons violate their constitutional right.
What happened in South Carolina?
Doctor Robert Leslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Leslie, 69, were killed in a shooting at their home in Rock Hill, South Carolina – along with their grandchildren Ada Leslie, 9, and Noah Leslie, 5.
James Lewis, a 38-year-old worker at the house, was also killed and another wounded by a bullet. He was taken to hospital, where he underwent several surgeries.
Doctor Leslie was a well-known and medical author.
He also established the Riverview Medical Center and the Intractable Care Center.
It was reported that the suspect in the attack, who was not officially named by the police, shot himself and killed himself during the chase.
According to the Associated Press, the suspect in the shooting is former soccer player Philip Adams.
A person who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the agency that Adams’ parents lived near the doctor’s house, and that he had previously been treated by him.
What did Biden say?
“Every day in this country 315 people are shot – every day,” the US President said during his White House remarks on Thursday, adding that 106 people were killed every day with weapons.
He added, “This is an epidemic and it must stop.”
He also offered his condolences to the family who were killed in South Carolina.
“When I was getting to the Oval Office, I learned that in South Carolina, a doctor, his wife, two grandchildren and a person working in their home had been shot dead,” Biden said.
“A lot of the people sitting here today know what it will be like when seconds change your life forever,” he added.
Biden’s executive order gives the US Department of Justice 30 days to propose a law that would help limit the spread of “hidden weapons.”
This type of weapon does not have serial numbers, which makes it difficult to trace its source. Minors and people who did not pass the checks necessary to carry weapons, can obtain them.
“Anyone from criminal to terrorist can buy this set, and in less than 30 minutes, they can build a weapon,” Biden said.
Experts say these homemade weapons are increasingly being used in crime. “Concealed weapons” make up more than 40% of all weapons confiscated in Los Angeles, according to federal firearms officials.
Biden also gave the Justice Department two months to come to a decision on mounting pistol supports. Under the decision, the handgun in use with a mounting prop will be classified as a short-barreled rifle, which will require more stringent background checks under the national firearms law.
He also asked the Ministry of Justice to draft a “red flag law” that states could then use to set their own legislation. These laws authorize courts and law enforcement agencies to confiscate weapons from people believed to be a danger to society.
It will be difficult to pass further measures through Congress. The Senate is currently divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, and Vice President – Democrat Kamala Harris has the decisive voice.
However, due to Senate rules, any legislation needs the support of 60 members to pass, so some Republican support is required. Republicans blocked important gun control laws in the past.
How did you respond?
Biden’s proposed actions have been praised by arms control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The president of the group, John Finblatt, said that each of these executive measures will help “address the epidemic of gun violence that has spread during the Corona epidemic and will begin to fulfill President Biden’s promise to be the most powerful president in terms of gun safety in history.”
Finblatt added that the Biden administration’s decision to deal with the “stealth weapon” would undoubtedly save countless lives.
The National Weapons Association, the largest right to bear arms lobby in the United States, called the measures “extreme”.
A US official told Reuters news agency that this is a first step in tackling armed violence, and that Biden will continue to advocate for firearms legislation.
“The president will not wait for Congress to act before his administration takes its own steps, completely within the authority of the administration and the Second Amendment, to save lives,” he added.
The South Carolina shooting is the eighth mass murder in the United States so far this year, according to a database compiled by the Associated Press, the United States Today, and Northeastern University. This database defines mass killings as incidents that result in four or more deaths.