WASHINGTON DC (WFSB) – President Joe Biden announced his plans to curb gun violence across the nation, something he referred to as an epidemic.
There have been renewed calls for action by advocacy groups after the recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado.
There is Democratic support, but it’s not clear yet if Republicans will get on board.
"I'm certainly open to the discussion," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican minority leader. "You know we were in this place August of 2019 when we had another series of incidents."
Through executive actions, Biden said on Thursday that he's calling for a review on what's considered a firearm.
The move especially highlights the concerns over ghost guns, which are handmade at home without serial numbers. They’re difficult for law enforcement to trace.
Biden is also pushing for the justice department to draft legislation for ‘red flag laws’ at the state level, and proposed a rule for stabilizing braces.
Such devices can transform guns into short-barreled rifles which are regulated by federal law.
Biden called on Congress to restore a federal assault weapon ban that expired in 2004.
"It was the law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings,” Biden said. “We should do it again."
Most of Biden's actions tackle relatively minor issues, like a revision of the federal government's definition of “firearm.”
"No one is talking about overturning or changing the Second Amendment,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.
When it comes to ghost guns, you basically buy the parts online and assemble them at home.
The Connecticut Citizen Defense League calls it “gunsmithing,” and said it is worried the orders are going to make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to either build firearms as part of recreation, or improve firearms.
Gun violence prevention groups are calling for ghost guns to be regulated like firearms.
Local police also said ghost guns are often used in violent crimes.
While they are legal, they must be serialized and registered with the state.
"It’s a difficult law to enforce because there’s really no database on who’s ordering these guns, what addresses they’re going to," said Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo.
The CCDL said it doesn't believe Biden's executive actions will stop those prohibited from owning a firearm from doing so.
"I think we can look at thousands of gun legislations are out there and say we still have a problem with criminals getting their hands on guns. This isn’t going to fix it," said Holly Sullivan, of the CCDL.
Police say the homemade guns in the wrong hands can lead to tragic endings.
In 2019, police say an argument over smoking led to a double murder-suicide in Watertown.
The suspect was not allowed to buy a gun, yet built a homemade one.
It's those scenes that the Sandy Hook Promise wants to prevent.
“We’re very excited with this step forward into gun violence prevention and safety,” said Nicole Hockley, of Sandy Hook Promise. “However, we still need Congress step forward as well.”
Part of what Sandy Hook Promise is referring to are the two gun control bills on background checks.
Both already passed the House.
Now the Senate will have to weigh in.
Connecticut’s senators took to Twitter to announce their support for action.
“The action on ghost guns will protect against untraceable, homemade weapons that no law-abiding gun owner would want,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “We’ve seen a large increase in the sale and use of these dangerous DIY weapons since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, making this action all the more urgent.”
The commonsense steps the Biden Admin is taking will save lives & prevent injuries & trauma that ripple through every corner of America. But executive orders from one president can be changed by another, so strong & effective laws to prevent gun violence are still critical. 7/7— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) April 8, 2021
“Requiring background checks on ghost guns is a no brainer, the right move by President Biden,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “But without Congressional action, a quarter of all gun transfers will happen without a check. We need to pass background checks legislation.”