How a Biden-Harris Administration Can Address Gun Violence with Executive Authority
Brady is recommending decisive, comprehensive executive actions to immediately address America's gun violence epidemic.
We recognize that a long-term and meaningful reduction in gun deaths and injuries throughout America will certainly require Congressional action in order to fund purposeful, evidence-based programs and to implement national common-sense policies. Despite this, it is within the power of the President of the United States to take immediate action against gun violence by leveraging the power of the executive branch to promote public health and safety, enhance enforcement of existing federal gun laws, and improve the operations of — and promote transparency within — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
In order to set priorities for necessary legislative goals, Brady is recommending decisive executive actions.
Enhance and Strengthen the Brady Background Check System
While Brady background checks do not fix the gun violence problem on their own, they are the bedrock foundation upon which all other gun laws stand. Since the Brady Bill was signed into law, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has prevented over 3.5 million unlawful transactions. The system is clearly saving lives, but could be saving more; it continues to harbor a stubborn set of dangerous gaps that undermine existing gun violence prevention laws supported by the background check system.
Recommendation # 1: Limit the private sales exception to those who sell 5 or fewer firearms a year to unlicensed individuals for profit.
Recommendation #2: Instruct ATF to broaden its interpretation of the term “firearm” to include unfinished frames and receivers which are designed and marketed to be converted into firearms.
Recommendation #3: Instruct ATF to expand the prohibition against firearms possession to include individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence against dating partners regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Recommendation #4: Instruct the DOJ to clarify that fugitives from justice, regardless of whether or not they have crossed state lines, are prohibited from purchasing guns.
Recommendation #5: Instruct ATF to allow dealers whose licenses have been revoked only two options with regard to their remaining inventory of firearms: 1) sell their firearms to another FFL, or 2) surrender their inventory to ATF
Gun Industry Oversight and Accountability
A comprehensive approach to ending gun violence — one that addresses social and racial inequities — must also address the epidemic’s supply-side. Negligent, irresponsible, and occasionally criminal behavior by some gun dealers and manufacturers is a major source of America’s gun violence epidemic. While maintaining tight oversight of the gun industry would seem an obvious necessity, under-regulation is the norm. Where the federal government does have oversight authority, enforcement is inconsistent and inadequate. For communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence, especially communities of color, the deadly consequences of these failures can be a daily occurrence.
Recommendation #6: Instruct ATF to overhaul its internal standards for issuing remedial actions — including license revocations — so that repeat and serious violators are no longer permitted to sell guns to the public.
Recommendation #7: Direct the ATF to require that FFLs perform annual background checks on all employees who transfer or may transfer firearms.
Recommendation #8: Require that ATF share FFL inspection data with state and local law enforcement on a regular basis.
Recommendation #9: Instruct the Attorney General to prioritize legal action against the gun industry for violations of federal law.
Recommendation #10: Direct federal agencies to procure firearms solely from manufacturers, distributors, and dealers that have adopted safe business practices, and mandate that the FFLs in their distribution chains implement these policies and standards.
Recommendation #11: Return regulatory authority of arms exports back to the State Department.
Prevent the Diversion of Firearms to the Illegal Market
Gun trafficking — the unlawful movement of guns from the legal market to the criminal one — is a major method of obtaining firearms for people who cannot legally purchase or possess them. Stemming the flow of trafficked weapons will slow the flooding of guns onto American streets, enabling communities to concentrate on community violence prevention and intervention programs. Deterring gun trafficking has been made more difficult by the fact that the corporate gun industry and ATF have hidden from the public critical data — such as which gun companies supply the criminal market — that would best inform policy solutions to the gun violence epidemic.
Recommendation #12: Direct ATF to interpret the phrase “statistical aggregate data” in the Tiahrt Amendments to include the aggregate number of crime gun traces on a per dealer basis, and to include information about the largest crime gun suppliers in the annual state trafficking reports.
Recommendation #13: Direct ATF to assess the terms of all MOUs with state and local law enforcement agencies regarding the use of eTrace data and ensure that no provisions place any restrictions on state and local use of trace data that are not necessary to comply with the language of Tiahrt.
Recommendation #14: Instruct ATF to require all states to report multiple sales of long guns so that it can identify traffickers and the dealers that facilitate gun trafficking.
Recommendation #15: Direct ATF to permit entities with eTrace logins to share trace data across state lines.
Access to trace data across state lines will help local and state law enforcement to understand and disrupt all trafficking routes that support the illegal crime gun market.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Accountability and Reform
The ATF is the sole federal agency tasked with overseeing FFLs, a critical role in preventing and reducing gun violence . And yet, ATF inspection reports of dealers, obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by Brady, show that the agency allows many of the worst violators in the gun industry to keep their licenses after failed compliance inspections. ATF’s failure to enforce the law and revoke the licenses of repeat offenders is a significant contributor to the country’s crime gun problem. Also troubling is that ATF provides very little transparency on their inspections or findings, precluding accountability for failures and shortcomings .
Recommendation #16: Direct ATF to prioritize crime gun suppliers, non-compliant FFLs, and other high-risk FFLs for more frequent compliance inspections, and to formally track and report its progress on an annual basis
Recommendation #17: Direct ATF to issue an annual report providing detailed information about legal violations by gun dealers, distributors, and manufacturers and how ATF has chosen to address such violations, broken down by geographic areas that correspond with ATF field divisions, to provide transparency about gun industry compliance and ATF compliance inspections.
Recommendation #18: Direct ATF to release an annual updated report containing all of the same categories of information contained in the 2000 report. This would equip policymakers with information necessary to prevent violence in their communities.
ATF inspection reports of dealers, obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by Brady, show that the agency allows many of the worst violators in the gun industry to keep their licenses after failed compliance inspections, making leniency for repeat and serious violators the rule rather than the exception.
Prioritize Public Health and Safety
Despite a heightened awareness of the gun violence crisis in communities across the country, firearm injuries and deaths continue to rise in both rural and urban areas. To combat this public health epidemic, we need comprehensive educational materials on how best to reduce gun violence, with a coordinated response at the federal level that brings together the many disparate government agencies. We must take steps to ensure that the federal government is accurately and completely collecting the data that both policymakers and the public at large will require if they are to confront and resolve this issue.
Recommendation #19: Appoint a well-qualified National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to coordinate federal responses to gun violence, a call originated by March for Our Lives.
Recommendation #20: Convene a task force that would seek comprehensive, actionable solutions to police violence.
Recommendation #21: Direct the CDC to adopt a methodology that provides reliable and accurate data regarding gunshot injuries.
Recommendation #22: Instruct ATF to develop and issue federal guidance on firearm safety and home storage safety and encourage FFLs to provide all firearms purchasers with educational materials on safe storage options, including offsite storage that may be available in their area. Providing such information and guidance can work to change social norms and proactively prevent avoidable incidents of family fire, whether unintentional discharges, intentional shootings, or firearm suicide, which will save lives.
Recommendation #23: Instruct ATF to develop and provide guidance, education, and suggested procedures to gun range owners and their employees to prevent incidents of gun violence onsite, as well as theft or burglary.