The Rundown

Biden administration to suggest model ‘red flag’ gun laws for states

By: - April 8, 2021 1:00 am

Photo of a customer at a gun shop by Sergio Flores/Bloomberg, Getty Images.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice will distribute model “red flag” legislation to states so they can enact laws that would allow courts to temporarily remove a firearm from an individual who is distressed, according to senior Biden administration officials.

“The president will not wait for Congress to act before the administration takes our own steps, fully within the administration’s authority and the Second Amendment, to save lives,” a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday night.

The move on red flag laws is among several steps being taken by the administration on gun violence, and follows deadly mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., last month, as well as an increase in homicides in the U.S. that administration officials said disproportionately affects Black and Brown Americans.

After the 2019 Dayton shooting left nine dead and 27 injured, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pushed for legislation to bolster the background check system used before a firearms purchase, toughen laws on people in possession of guns if they’ve lost the legal right to wield them, and expand a legal process for courts to temporarily seize guns from people in mental health crises.

The Ohio General Assembly did not enact DeWine’s proposals, instead passing a “stand your ground” law that recently went to effect, and also recently proposing to expand concealed carry by axing the requirement to obtain a license.

Within 60 days, the U.S. Justice Department will publish model red flag legislation for states. At the same time, President Joe Biden is also urging Congress to pass a federal law to allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove any firearms from individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.

Biden is also planning to announce his nomination of Michigan native David Chipman, a gun violence prevention advocate, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, senior administration officials said.

“There’s no one better to lead ATF right now. He will help the federal government better enforce our gun laws while respecting the Second Amendment,” a senior administration official said.

Chipman worked as a special federal agent at ATF for 25 years and is currently a senior policy adviser at Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocacy group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, (D-Ariz.), and her husband, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, (D-Ariz.). Giffords in 2011 was shot in the head by a gunman while at a constituent event in Tucson and now leads the advocacy group.

The Biden administration will also direct the DOJ to issue a proposed rule within 30 days that will stop the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are homemade guns that lack a serial number, making them difficult for law enforcement to trace.

DOJ will also be releasing an annual report on firearm trafficking— the last report was done in 2000.

The administration in addition is proposing a $5 billion investment over eight years in the American Jobs Plan in evidence-based community violence interventions, such as helping connect people to job training and job opportunities.

The Department of Health and Human Services will organize a webinar to help states understand how they can use Medicaid reimbursements for intervention programs.

The administration is not taking action on a ban on assault rifles. But after the mass shooting in Colorado where 10 people were killed, the president called on Congress to ban the weapons.

A week before the Colorado mass shooting, another mass shooting in Atlanta left six Asian American women dead, as well as two other people.

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Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. As a Florida native, she's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.

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