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Biden takes new actions on ghost guns
From a public safety and political standpoint, the president is in no position to stand pat. So he’s doing what he can with what he has.
President Joe Biden this afternoon will announce a series of new actions his administration hopes will reduce gun violence across the country.
The additional steps come as violent crime is up in big cities and Republicans double-down on a law-and-order campaign message designed to turn out their voter base as they look to reclaim the majority in the House and Senate during November’s midterm elections.
Biden will also nominate Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the federal agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws.
During Biden’s remarks, he will discuss a new federal regulation of so-called ghost guns, homemade firearms without commercial serial numbers. According to the White House, there were 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF last year, a ten-fold increase from 2016. These untraceable weapons aren’t subject to federal or state commercial background check regulations, which contributes to the difficulty law enforcement has attempting to trace a ghost gun found at a crime scene to an individual purchaser.
The administration will now clarify guns made from unserialized kits that people can buy online or in-store without a background check to assemble a working weapon with the equipment they have at home in as little as 30 minutes as firearms under the Gun Control Act. As a result, commercial manufacturers of the kits must become licensed and include serial numbers on specific parts of the kit and commercial sellers must become federally licensed and run pre-sale background checks.
For ghost guns already in circulation, federally licensed dealers and gunsmiths accepting an unserialized firearm into their inventory must serialize that weapon before selling it to a customer. Some of these guns are made from individual parts, the aforementioned kits or by 3D printers. The White House says this requirement will apply regardless of how the firearm was made.
According to ATF’s National Tracing Center, on average more than 1,300 firearms a year are untraceable because the federally licensed firearms dealer destroyed the relevant records that were more than 20 years old. So the Justice Department will now require licensed firearms dealers to retain key records until they shut down their business or no longer sell weapons. Then, the dealers will have to transfer the records to ATF. (These dealers were previously permitted to destroy most records after 20 years, which complicated law enforcements’ efforts to trace guns recovered at crime scenes.
The regulation also updates the regulatory definitions of specific parts of a gun to close a loophole that could exempt as many as 90 percent of firearms in the United States today based on a broad interpretation of an older directive.
Dettelbach, Biden’s nominee to lead the ATF, is touted as a highly respected former federal prosecutor with a record of innovation in fighting crime and violence and the experience to take on both gun crime and domestic violent extremism and religious violence.
David Chipman, the president’s first ATF nominee was withdrawn last fall, in the face of stiff opposition from gun advocacy groups, Republican senators and even a few Democrats.
The agency hasn’t had a confirmed director in six years and has had only one since 2006 when Congress made the position subject to Senate confirmation.
At press time, it’s unclear if Dettelbach will have an easier go during the confirmation process.
What’s clear though is that the same Republicans who speak in law-and-order talking points are wholly uninterested in considering any meaningful reforms and economic investments that could prevent gun crimes.
Not to mention, these actions fall short of addressing the gun violence perpetrated by police officers toward Black and brown people.
Last year, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, were in serious negotiations on a police reform bill but they fell apart after the lawmakers couldn’t agree on a compromise to qualified immunity, the principle that protects officers from most civil suits. (Republicans argue that eliminating this protection would harm police recruitment; Democrats say the doctrine effectively serves as blanket liability for serious police misbehavior.
And since we’re less than seven months from a consequential election, there’s no appetite to resume talks on such a contentious issue and no incentive for Republicans to broker an agreement that could dilute their tough-on-crime bona fides.
It’s worth noting today’s actions also exclude new regulations on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines or liabilities for gun manufacturers who enjoy Teflon levels of protection from prosecution in most cases. And until Congress acts, background checks are still optional for some gun sales and terrorists can slip through the cracks and buy weapons in the US.
But the administration, from a public safety and political standpoint, is in no position to stand pat. So President Biden is doing what he can with what he has.
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Today in Politics
President Biden this morning will return to the White House from Delaware and receive his daily intelligence briefing. He then will hold a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. After, the president will speak on the administration’s new actions on gun crime. Vice President Harris and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will also speak.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will travel to Iowa to promote his economic agenda.
Thursday: Biden will travel to North Carolina to continue pitching his economic agenda.
Vice President Harris this afternoon will also speak on the administration’s new actions on reducing medical debt for American families. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Donald Remy, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young and the Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra will also speak.
First Lady Jill Biden this afternoon will join former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a conversation at the 2022 Clinton Global Initiative University Annual Meeting on community colleges and the future of workforce development.
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
Read All About It
Michelle Tyrene Johnson on the role of group chats in Black friendships:
It’s a conversational touchstone without veils or filters, rules or conventions. Our hundreds of collective spontaneous contributions to this private thread probably crossed the 1,000th interaction mark a long time ago. While we do a minimal amount of off-topic bonding — happy birthdays and holiday wishes, news about moves, job changes, family and travel, the funny or the trivial — it’s rare. Small talk is not our norm. We don't disconnect long enough to need to reconnect. This is a place where we do the call-and-response of analysis, links to articles, funny gifs and vulnerable check-ins, where we share the occasional anger when there is yet another Black attack on the public highway we're always traveling down in our regular, unconnected lives.
[F]or single people who aren't actively dating, the pressure to give the people what they want can weigh a bit heavy.
Though we’ve (arguably) evolved enough as a society to know that a person isn’t doomed to a life of unhappiness if they aren’t married before the age of 35, the reality of singledom in 2022 is still relatively fraught. For every person that assumes your life is a montage of quirky dating stories and all-night benders, there are at least a dozen more who assume you spend your evenings crying over microwave meals.
For those of us sitting (comfortably) somewhere in between, we tend to find ourselves fielding a lot from our peers. The questions, the queries, the sympathy. Good lord, the sympathy. Friends in relationships either want to live vicariously through you, make it their mission to set you up with anyone they know who's a free agent — compatibility be damned — or, worse yet, they shy away from talking about relationships with you at all, assuming it's a sore point. Because everyone who's single must be heartbroken, right?
Lara Bazelon on why a mom’s ambition is good for her family:
Research shows that the children of full-time working mothers fare no worse than the children of stay-at-home mothers. A 2018 study of more than 100,000 people across 29 countries found that the daughters of working mothers were more successful in their own careers than the daughters of stay-at-home mothers, and just as happy. For sons, there was no discernible effect on their professional lives, although sons of working moms performed more housework in their own marriages and reported more egalitarian views on gender.
The feminism of my mother’s generation was rightly focused on equal pay at work; eradicating the abuses that drove women out of the workforce or caused them to switch to lower-paying, part-time work; and, eventually, equal division of labor at home. That project is far from complete. But feminism today must be about more than these structural changes. We have to redefine what it means to be a good mother.
The truth is that motherhood is as beautiful as it looks on the congratulations cards, but it can also be a mess. It’s important to be honest about this. No real change is possible until working mothers stop trying to be all things to all people—perfect at work, perfect as partners, and perfect as mothers, with each role kept entirely separate. Rather than hermetically sealing motherhood off from workplace struggles and triumphs, women should embrace the seepage between their worlds. For themselves, but also for their sons and daughters.
Marisa Gerber on faith in the time of COVID-19:
The last two years have transformed the stability of our families, our jobs and our collective understanding of science and sacrifice. But, for many of us, COVID-19’s reach also rewired something more elemental: our faith.
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Sam Adler-Bell on if Democrats actually want Amazon workers to win:
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Lindsay Ellis on the young professionals still on their parents’ phone plan:
During the first part of the pandemic, moving business calls to personal devices was no big deal. Workers already had colleagues’ mobile numbers saved in their contacts. But as Americans looked for new positions, cold-calls with recruiters, new bosses and business contacts opened up awkward conversations about who is footing the bill and when it is time to cut the cord on the family cellphone plan. Some carriers set an account’s billing name as the default caller ID name.
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