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President Biden’s Executive Orders March 2023

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

President Biden Responds to the Explosion of Gun Violence in the US

White House Fact Sheet is here

President Biden’s executive order to curb gun violence and enhance background checks on firearms buyers was announced on March 14 at a Boys & Girls Club in the Monterey Park community which was devastated by a mass shooting on the eve of Lunar New Year in January.

“I know what it’s like to get that call…. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one so suddenly. It’s like losing a piece of your soul,” Biden told about 200 people in the gymnasium of a Boys & Girls Club, referring to the 1972 car crash that killed his wife, Neilia, and one-year-old baby daughter, Naomi.

President Biden is still calling for a national ban on assault weapons and for Congress to take more action. The President, however, is taking innovative actions now to save lives.

The following highlights President Biden’s executive orders issued on March 14:

Keep guns out of dangerous hands by ensuring that firearms dealers are properly licensed by the federal government and operate according to the law, including requesting background checks for gun sales. (People whose federal licenses have been revoked are not permitted to sell firearms.)

Increase public awareness about state and local firearm storage laws and Extreme Risk Protection Order laws through public awareness and education campaigns. Oregon’s firearm storage law is weaker than Ethan’s Law, the proposed federal firearm storage law, because under Oregon’s law, the gun owner faces only a violation (similar to a moving vehicle violation) if a person is injured or killed with the gun. Under Ethan’s Law, if a person is injured or killed with an unsecured firearm, the firearm owner may face up to five years in prison.

Reduce loss or theft of firearms during shipment by requiring the Departments of Transportation and Justice to work with companies that ship or transport firearms to track and report loss or theft. According the the ATF, “No federal statute requires common or contract carriers to report the theft or loss of a firearm in transit to ATF. Only Congress may enact a law imposing such a requirement, and it has chosen not to.” According the the White House Fact Sheet, the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) data indicates an over 250% increase in the number of firearms reported as lost or stolen during shipment between federally licensed firearms dealers, from roughly 1,700 in 2018 to more than 6,100 in 2022.”

Give policymakers data about gun dealers who violated federal firearm laws. The data can enable state and local leaders to reduce illegal transactions and theft. Providing this data does not violate the Tiahrt Amendment that usually hamstrings the ATF. The public and policymakers will finally have information about federally licensed firearms dealers who have violated federal laws. Unlike pharmacies and cannabis dispensaries in Oregon, federally licensed firearms dealers are not required to have common security equipment including cameras recording transactions or report inventory. Information about arms dealers who have violated federal law can provide the foundation for policy that could include Oregon requiring much higher security and reporting standards for gun dealers or perhaps requiring gun dealers to be licensed by the state of Oregon as well as by the federal government. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia generally require firearms dealers to obtain a state-issued license. Nine states require dealers to obtain a state license to engage in the retail sale of any type of firearm (CA, DC, HI, IL, MA, NJ, PA, RI, WA). (Giffords)

Encourage federally licensed firearms dealers to be in compliance with laws by using the purchasing power of the US Department of Defense.

Solve more gun crimes by improving the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). 

Encourage faster implementation where needed of programs funded by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which President Biden passed in July 2022. According to a report in the Oregon Capital Chronicle, Oregon allocated $3.3 million from the $32.5 million available to hire school safety specialists for each of Oregon’s 19 regional education service districts.

Create a federal outreach program to communities in the aftermath of a mass shooting. When a natural disaster hits a community, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations in order to assess and meet community needs. However, when a mass shooting overwhelms a community, no coordinated federal program or agency exists to assist survivors. A federal outreach program is desperately needed.

Increase public safety by extending the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988. Currently, the UFA does not include a frame or receiver as a firearm. (Undetectable Firearm Act of 1988, Section 2(a)(2)(A)) The Oregon legislature has an opportunity in the 2023 legislative session to pass HB 2005, a bill to ban unserialized and undetectable firearms in Oregon.