WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.), co-founders of the Senate Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, Tuesday joined a broad democratic coalition of nearly 70 lawmakers in urging President Joe Biden to take further executive action to combat gun violence and limit the sale of assault weapons.
These executive actions to prevent gun violence are endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady: United Against Gun Violence.
“We commend the important steps your Administration has recently taken on this issue, including steps to expand the scope of dealers required to conduct background checks, increase public access to information about dealers who violate the law, and more,” wrote the lawmakers to President Biden. “Nevertheless, the American people expect the federal government to use every possible tool to reduce gun violence. Congress must act — and it is an ongoing tragedy that Republican leadership refuses to do so. We also believe you can exercise your executive authority to take additional action to address gun violence without congressional action.”
In March of 2023, President Biden issued an expansive executive order to address gun violence, which included directing the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further public safety practices through Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition of firearms and directing the Attorney General to publicly release information about dealers who have violated federal firearm laws, among other provisions. Still, 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for mass shootings in recent American history, with almost 500 mass shootings since the beginning of the year.
“The epidemic of gun violence demands that you use the full power of the executive branch,” the lawmakers added. “With Republicans in Congress blocking further legislative action to reduce gun violence, we urge you to leverage the full scope of your executive authority on this issue.”
The lawmakers laid out a list of policy proposals the Biden Administration could undertake as part of its push to address gun violence through executive action.
The proposed policies include:
- Instructing DoD and other federal agencies that purchase firearms to implement standards for procuring taxpayer-funded firearms only from manufacturers that agree to adopt a code of conduct. The code of conduct could include declining to sell military-grade weapons to civilians and only selling to responsible dealers who refuse to proceed with a sale without a completed background check, even when they are legally authorized to do so.
- Reevaluating the list of guns eligible for import under the “sporting purposes” exception, which could significantly reduce the import of dangerous assault weapons.
- Transferring authority over assault rifle exports back to the State Department from the Commerce Department, reversing the Trump Administration’s shift of authority to Commerce, which allowed a surge in exports of these deadly weapons.
- Encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to issue a policy statement on “unfair or deceptive” gun ads that falsely assert that firearm ownership increases household residents’ physical safety from gun violence.
- Directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its interpretation of the Tiahrt Amendment in order to expand the types of firearm trace data that can be released to the public, including to researchers, litigants, and journalists.
“These proposals are just examples of the additional actions your Administration can take to reduce gun violence and protect our communities from the next mass shooting. With Republicans in Congress refusing to act, the American people are relying on your Administration to ensure that they can move through their daily lives without fear of firearms on the streets, in public establishments, and in their homes,” the lawmakers said.
In June, both Sens. Menendez and Booker cosponsored the Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which would ensure that all survivors of gun violence, including their loved ones, coworkers and classmates, have access to and can identify resources available to them to help meet medical, legal, financial, and other needs. On National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Sen. Menendez and several of his colleagues announced a package of gun violence prevention bills that would significantly decrease the pervasive threat of gun violence across the United States, including the reintroduction of the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act that would eliminate the 3D printing and distribution of ghost guns.
In May, Sens. Menendez and Booker cosponsored the Responsible Firearms Marketing Act, directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study the dangers posed by unfair and deceptive marketing and advertising practices conducted by the gun industry. This year, Sens. Menendez and Booker joined several of his colleagues in forming the first Senate Gun Violence Prevention Caucus to coordinate common-sense solutions to battle the epidemic of gun violence in America. Also in May, Sen. Menendez joined with Newark officials, community violence intervention leaders and gun safety advocates to call on the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to implement rules to help close the background check loophole.
In February, Sen. Menendez led his colleagues in the reintroduction of the Keep Americans Safe Act, which would ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of high-capacity magazines. He also reintroduced the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act, which would require the ATF and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to collect, preserve, and disclose gun records and gun tracing data. Sens. Menendez and Booker also joined several of his colleagues this year in reintroducing legislation to ban assault weapons, close the Charleston Loophole, and require gun owners secure their firearms in a secure gun storage.
In 2022, Sen. Menendez reintroduced the Federal Firearm Licensing Act that would require individuals to obtain a firearm license from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before purchasing or receiving a firearm. He also urged the Biden Administration to do more to address the ghost gun loophole based on legislation he has authored, which would prohibit the online distribution of blueprints and instructions that allow for the 3D printing of firearms. In 2021, Sens. Menendez and Booker, alongside 16 Senate Democrats and 99 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, urged the U.S. Department of Education in a letter to raise awareness about securely storing guns safely and away from kids following the tragic shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) led the letter in the Senate. In addition to Sens. Menendez and Booker, the letter was also signed by Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). In the House of Representatives, the letter was led by U.S. Representatives Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.-10), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.-01), Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.-07).