Gun Safety Priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration
The following collection of recommended executive actions and proposed budget request is intended to help the next administration identify the most robust and effective steps the executive branch can take to reduce gun violence, as well as provide recommendations for exactly how to implement these actions quickly and efficiently.
The advisory board for this project includes former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; Obama Administration Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Neera Tanden; former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart; former Congressman Tom Perriello; Senior Partner, California Partnership for Safe Communities Reygan Cunningham; Director, Emergency General Surgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital Dr. Joseph Sakran; and Director, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program, The Joyce Foundation, Nina Vinik (acting in individual capacity).
GUN SAFETY PRIORITIES
Giffords and CAP stand ready to support the administration in all of its efforts to reduce gun violence. Our hope is that these materials serve as a helpful starting point as this critical work begins.Download PDF
We believe gun safety is an urgent priority and have identified the following actions we believe should be considered during the first few months of the Biden-Harris administration. Most of these recommendations require the participation of law enforcement and strong relationships between police and the communities they serve; as such, reforming American policing will be a critical part of ensuring these actions are successful.
● Create an interagency task force on gun violence prevention co-chaired by the White House chief of staff, the attorney general, and the secretary of Health and Human Services to signal the importance of this issue and implement a comprehensive government approach to addressing it.
● Nominate a strong director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who will lend stability to the agency and prioritize the prevention of gun violence. The new director should immediately begin work on a comprehensive analysis of gun trafficking in the US and increase access to crime gun trace data to enable local law enforcement, policymakers, and research scholars to develop smart, targeted approaches to reduce gun violence.
● Prioritize community violence prevention within the Department of Justice, including by creating a Community Violence Intervention Task Force within the Office of Justice Programs to coordinate community-based violence prevention and intervention efforts across federal agencies, improve coordination of violence reduction initiatives with state and local stakeholders, conduct outreach to communities experiencing high rates of gun violence, and serve as a technical assistance resource for best practices. The Department of Justice should also immediately issue new guidance clarifying that funding available under the Project Safe Neighborhoods, Byrne JAG, and Victims of Crime Act grant programs should be used to support community-based violence intervention programs.
● Commence a rulemaking process to ban “ghost guns” to ensure that these untraceable firearms are not easily available, especially to prohibited purchasers.
The memos were developed by Giffords and the Center for American Progress with contributions from several of the nation’s leading law firms, including Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; Covington & Burling; Hanson Bridgett; Keker, Van Nest & Peters; and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
Recommended executive actions are broken down by agency, and within each agency they are listed in order of priority. The collection of memos can be downloaded in its entirety above, or each memo can be accessed and downloaded individually below.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT (EOP)
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: OFFICE OF THE ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL (OASG)
- Restore DOJ’s critical role in promoting oversight and reform of unconstitutional policing practices
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES (ATF)
- Promulgate a regulation to update the definition of “frame or receiver” to address the proliferation of untraceable “ghost guns”
- Resume conducting research into illegal gun trafficking and make this research available on an annual basis
- Promulgate a regulation providing that a person who sells five guns or more for profit per calendar year is considered “in the business” of selling firearms
- Issue guidance clarifying that a single willful and serious violation of federal, state, or local law by gun dealers will lead to a rebuttable presumption that a federal firearms license will be revoked
- Expand ATF’s use of “demand letters” to obtain crucial data about illegal gun trafficking
- Release aggregate trace data on a more frequent basis
- Extend ATF’s retention of records of multiple sales of firearms so that they are deleted after ten years, instead of two years
- Establish a domestic violence specialist in all ATF field divisions
- Reform the NFA determination process
- Finalize framework to fully ban armor-piercing ammunition
- Promulgate a regulation requiring federal firearm licensees to video tape all sales
- Promulgate a regulation to update safety information federal firearms licensees are required to post and distribute in their stores
- Issue new criteria to enforce the “sporting purposes” requirement under the Gun Control Act and ban the importation of semi-automatic assault rifles and handguns
- Promulgate a regulation closing loopholes in gun storage and safety lock requirements for federal firearm licensees
- Promulgate a regulation clarifying that facilitating gun sales for profit is a form of “dealing in firearms”
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS (FBI)
- Promulgate a regulation allowing the NICS Section access to the National Data Exchange
- Establish an alert system for failed background checks, so state and local officials are notified when a person in their community who is prohibited from gun possession due to domestic violence has tried to buy a gun
- Promulgate a regulation requiring maintenance of all incomplete background check records until a determination is made whether the gun buyer is prohibited from possessing guns
- Reverse the Trump administration’s change to the definition of “fugitive from justice” and restore all records purged from NICS
- Release annual data on default-proceed background checks
- Promulgate a regulation allowing access to NICS for state ammunition purchaser background checks
- Ensure thorough training, auditing, and accountability measures regarding the NICS system in point of contact (POC) states
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS (OJP)
- Establish a Community Violence Intervention Task Force to create and support evidence-based community violence intervention programs in areas disproportionately impacted by gun violence
- Encourage states and local governments to use Byrne JAG funding to implement Community Violence Intervention programs
- Redirect Project Safe Neighborhoods funding towards evidence-based initiatives concentrating on the small subset of individuals responsible for community violence
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: OFFICE FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME (OVC)
- Promulgate a regulation ensuring that a higher percentage of Victims of Crime Act funds are used to support underserved populations
- Make community violence a special focus area of the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING SERVICES (COPS)
- Make gun violence a COPS “focus area” for grant funding to promote effective implementation of laws and strategies aimed at preventing gun violence and homicides through community-oriented approaches
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: OFFICE OF US ATTORNEYS (EOUSA)
- Shift federal law enforcement priorities to focus on illegal gun trafficking
- Establish a domestic violence specialist or victim assistant in each of DOJ’s 94 US Attorney’s Offices
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: CENTERs FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC)
- Declare public health emergencies in areas where shootings and gun homicides are greatest, and use the authority pursuant to those declarations to address those emergencies
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (USDOC)
- In conjunction with the Department of State, promulgate a rulemaking to restore oversight of firearm exports and imports to the Department of State by reversing Trump administration rules that transferred oversight of these weapons to the Department of Commerce
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD)
- Reverse a Trump administration rule that allows for the possession of firearms on certain Army Corp of engineer projects without written permission
- Ensure that the military is properly reporting to NICS
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (ED)
- Issue guidance clarifying that purchasing guns or funding firearms training is not an allowable use of Department of Education grant funding
DEPARTMENT OF STATE (DOS)
- Reinstate the 2002 State Department firearms silencer policy prohibiting the export of silencers for commercial sales