There is much that the new administration can do to lessen the carnage.

AuthorJhonson, Sharon

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were elected with the most ambitious gun reform agenda in decades.

In addition to such long-sought goals as requiring universal background checks and banning the manufacture and sale of assault weapons, their plan calls for prohibiting ghost guns (unregistered and untraceable homemade weapons), creating a federal weapons buy-back program, and directing more than $900 million to community-based violence interruption programs.

"Biden's plan is a strong statement of the importance of support for gun safety at both the federal and state levels," says New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh, founder and chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, a nonprofit association of more than 200 Democratic and Republican members of legislatures from all fifty states.

But, like previous Democratic administrations, Biden and Harris face uphill battles in winning Congressional approval. The last major federal gun control bill, a ban on assault weapons, passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Gaining Congressional support may be especially difficult this year, as lawmakers struggle to contain the pandemic and revive the economy.

Despite these challenges, advocates for gun control predict that Biden and Harris's eighteen-point plan will reduce the nation's grim toll of gun fatalities. Many of It's proposed strategies and policies, they say, can be implemented by federal administrative agencies or state and local governments.

"It is one of the strongest proposals we have seen in years because it is based on the extensive experience [that] Biden and Harris have had in their earlier careers," says Robin Lloyd, managing director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit center in San Francisco that tracks gun legislation.

As a Senator in 1993, Biden spearheaded the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the federal background check system. The act has kept at least three million people who are legally prohibited from possessing a gun from obtaining one. But, Lloyd explains in a phone interview, some people with criminal records and other disqualifying conditions have been able to acquire weapons because the checks must be completed in three business days or else the sale automatically goes through.

To close this loophole, Biden intends to propose federal legislation to extend the timetable to ten business days. During his first 100 days as President, he will also order the FBI...

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