Biden lays out plan to combat gun violence in the US, calls for a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to take on rogue gun dealers

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • President Biden and Attorney General Garland announced initiatives aimed at stemming gun violence.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing calls for policing reform after the death of George Floyd have increased the stakes for action.
  • Biden has long pushed for gun control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons.
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President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday laid out a plan to curtail gun violence across the country, which includes several measures focused on stemming the stream of firearms used in crimes.

The president has long sought gun control measures pushed by most Democratic lawmakers, including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun purchases, which he mentioned during his speech.

“Crime historically rises during the summer, and as we emerge from this pandemic, with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be,” he said. “I’ve been at this a long time, and there are things we know that reduce gun violence and violent crime, and things we don’t know.”

He added: “Background checks for purchasing a firearm are important … the ban on assault weapons at high-capacity magazines. No one needs to have a weapon that can fire up to 100 rounds, unless you think the deer are wearing kevlar vests or something.”

A key focus of the administration will be the pursuit of gun sellers who violate existing law, with Biden stating that the Department of Justice would have a “zero tolerance” approach to such incidents.

“We are announcing a major crackdown the stem of flow of guns used to commit violent crimes,” he said.”It is zero tolerance for those who willfully violate key existing laws and regulations.”

He added: “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections, my message to you is this … ‘We’ll find you and we’ll seek your license to sell guns.'”

Read more: Biden’s pick to oversee Capitol riot cases is expected to be a former public corruption prosecutor

In his speech, Biden also stressed that state and local officials in areas that are experiencing increases in crime can utilize $350 billion in funding from the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package known as the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced new strike forces aimed at tackling gun trafficking in five key metropolitan regions – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, and Washington, DC.

Biden’s actions come as violent crime has become an issue as the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which created sustained economic hardship for millions of Americans.

After the May 2020 murder of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police, the calls for justice were immediate, especially among Black Americans.

While Biden, who has a long legislative record on criminal justice issues as a senator and as vice president, has so far risen above becoming an effective foil for Republicans, increases in violent crime have become an issue in many cities.

According to criminologists, homicide rates in large US cities rose by more than 30 percent on average last year, and rates were up by another 24 percent for the beginning of the year, The New York Times reported.

Biden has vehemently opposed the “defunding” of police departments and has backed bipartisan talks aimed at crafting police reform legislation.

On Wednesday, Biden and Garland also led an anti-violence meeting at the White House with Democratic Mayors Brandon Scott of Baltimore and Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County, along with GOP Mayor Steve Allender of Rapid City, S.D., New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Baton Rouge, La., police chief Murphy Paul, and several community activists.

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Biden to sign an executive order expanding voting rights to counter Republican moves to restrict them

Biden
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with labor leaders in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Washington

  • President Biden plans to sign an executive order on expanding voter rights Sunday. 
  • Biden will order federal agencies to figure out new ways to increase the number of Americans voting. 
  • State GOP parties across the US are seeking to restrict access to voting. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

President Joe Biden is planning on signing an executive order Sunday expanding voting rights amid attempts to tighten access to voting by state Republican parties. 

He will sign the order to mark the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when Alabama state troopers attacked peaceful civil rights protesters in 1965., said administration officials briefing media outlets. 

In excerpts of remarks Biden will deliver Sunday, he says that the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters should act as a clarion call on the urgency of defending voting rights. 

“In 2020 – with our very democracy on the line – even in the midst of a pandemic – more Americans voted than ever before,” Biden says in the script. “Yet instead of celebrating this powerful demonstration of voting – we saw an unprecedented insurrection on our Capitol and a brutal attack on our democracy on January 6th. A never-before-seen effort to ignore, undermine and undo the will of the people.”

As part of the order, Biden will:

  • Order all federal agencies to come up with new ways they can help increase voting access. 
  • Overhaul and update the Vote.Gov website. 
  • Increase access to voting for federal employees. 
  • Assess what can be done to increase access to voting for those with disabilities. 
  • Increase access to voting for military personnel. 
  • Create a steering committee on Native American voting rights. 

The move comes as state Republican parties across the US seek to restrict access to voting. 

Many GOP officials have cited former president Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from him due to mass voter fraud to justify overhauling access to voting. 

Biden’s order will not affect state-level laws but serves as an important statement of intent by the administration on voting rights and how the president will use the office to promote the issue. 

Democrats are pushing for a sweeping voting rights bill to counteract voting restrictions measures planned by Republicans. 

The bill, which also proposes tightening campaign finance rules, passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Friday on a vote split along party lines.

 

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Track all of Biden’s executive orders and actions as president

joe biden executive orders
President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

  • President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders on his first weeks in office.
  • Many revoked Trump’s actions, laid out Biden’s policy goals, and focused on the pandemic.
  • Track Biden’s executive actions in the interactive graphic below.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden exercised his power on his first day in office with a series of executive orders, already ticking off some items on his agenda and undoing his predecessor’s legacy.

Roughly five hours after being sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday, Biden signed a stack of actions, many of which targeted former President Donald Trump’s policies.

“There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” Biden said. “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”

Biden revoked Trump’s controversial ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries, halted construction of the former president’s wall along the US-Mexico border, and extended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting young immigrants who came to the US as children.

Issuing executive orders is typically among presidents’ first duties. Biden outpaced Trump, who on his first day in office signed only one order, to begin a reversal of the Affordable Care Act, which ultimately was unsuccessful.

Biden took the reins of the presidency during a tumultuous period for the nation, still reeling from the deadly Capitol riot and the coronavirus pandemic. The new president repeated calls for unity in his inauguration ceremony and issued a proclamation declaring Wednesday a “National Day of Unity.”

Beyond bridging political divides, Biden has the monumental task of combatting a raging public-health crisis. More than 400,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US.

Wearing a mask at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Biden kicked off his pandemic response with a “100 Days Masking Challenge” and issued a mask mandate in federal buildings.

This graphic categorizes all of Biden’s executive orders, memoranda, and proclamations. If you click on an action, it will take you to the full text and details from the White House. We’ll keep it updated.

On day one, Biden also rejoined the Paris climate accord, an international treaty that the Obama administration adopted and Trump abandoned. And Biden stopped the US’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which Trump had initiated last summer after accusing the United Nations agency of cozying up to China.

Biden extended an eviction moratorium and student-loan-payment deferments to support Americans struggling financially during the pandemic.

Since those actions were presidential statements or agency directives, they aren’t included in the graphic. You can find all of Biden’s statements, actions, and directives on the White House website, or in the Federal Register.

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Biden just signed an executive order to expand food stamps and send stimulus checks to people who haven’t already received one

joe biden executive orders
President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

  • President Joe Biden’s third wave of executive actions will provide aid to Americans struggling financially during the pandemic.
  • Addressing the hunger crisis, increasing SNAP benefits, and ensuring quick delivery of stimulus payments are core components of Biden’s COVID-19 economic relief plan.
  • Biden also plans on providing relief to federal workers by encouraging government agencies to raise the minimum hourly wage to $15.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden signed an executive action on Friday to address the financial struggles facing millions of Americans as the pandemic continues.

“We need more action and we need to move fast,” Biden said during a signing ceremony on Friday.

While Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package is centered around providing aid, executives orders will allow for immediate action without having to wait for congressional approval, Insider previously reported. The move underscores the Biden administration’s intent to move rapidly to address the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

The Biden administration is also kickstarting relief talks with Congress this weekend, attempting to garner bipartisan support for a large rescue package that’s already running into strong Republican opposition.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what the executive action includes and how it will provide economic relief for businesses, families, and individuals:

Address the growing hunger crisis facing children and adults in America

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one in seven households in the country are struggling to obtain the food they need. Biden is calling on Congress to extend the 15% Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit increase and invest $3 billion to help women, infants, and children get the food they require.

Increase access to nutritious foods for children missing meals during school closures

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer connects low-income families with children with the equivalent amount of money spent on school meals. Biden is asking the Dept. of Agriculture to increase the benefits by about 15% to accurately reflect the cost of missed meals during the pandemic.

Allow larger emergency SNAP allotments for lowest-income households

Congress has previously authorized emergency SNAP benefits, but those benefits have not been made available to the lowest-income households in the country. The USDA will consider extending those benefits to the households that need them the most, increasing benefit access to an additional 12 million people.

Update the true cost of a healthy diet

The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which determines SNAP benefits, is not up to date with the economic realities households face when attempting to buy healthy food, so the benefits fall short of what a healthy diet truly costs. Biden will request that the USDA review the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the modern cost of a healthy diet.

Ensure efficient delivery of direct stimulus payments

With many Americans experiencing challenges receiving the first round of direct payments — eight million eligible households never received the checks — Biden plans to provide equitable delivery of his proposed $1,400 stimulus checks by asking the Treasury Department to improve delivery of the Economic Impact Payments. This can be done through a series of measures, including establishing online tools for claiming payments, working to make sure everyone can access the payments, and analyzing unserved households for additional outreach efforts.

Guarantee safety and economic coverage for working families

43% of American households report having at least one member of a family with a pre-existing condition, according to a Gallup poll, which makes going into work a significant health risk. As a result, Biden will ask the Dept. of Labor to clarify that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that could jeopardize their health, and if they choose to do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.

Help families, workers, and small businesses access relief quickly through coordinated benefit delivery teams

While many government programs have provided support for families struggling financially, many individuals and small businesses have encountered difficulty in navigating relief services, leaving many benefits unclaimed. As a result, Biden plans on establishing benefit delivery teams and a coordination structure across federal and state programs to provide greater ease in accessing urgent relief.

Protecting and Empowering Federal Workers and Contractors Executive Order

Biden will direct his administration on Friday to begin the work that will allow him to issue an executive order in his first 100 days to require federal contractors to pay workers a $15 minimum wage, along with providing emergency paid leave to workers. 

To further protect federal employees, Biden will sign an executive order that:

  • Restores collective bargaining powers and worker protections
  • Eliminates Schedule F, which threatens critical protections of career employees and allows for civil service positions for political appointees
  • Promotes a $15 minimum wage for all federal workers 
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