President Biden will sign an executive order aimed at expanding background checks during his visit Tuesday to Monterey Park, Ca., where 11 people were gunned down in January. The White House said the move will get “the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible” without legislation, as Congress remains gridlocked on the issue. Gun safety advocates have pushed administration officials on this front for months, Politico reports. The executive action will direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to address a background check loophole by clarifying the definition of “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed last summer updated federal law, requiring anyone who sells guns for profit to be licensed and conduct background checks on buyers. By clarifying who qualifies as a gun dealer, the federal law will require a greater number of sellers to conduct background checks on prospective buyers. Biden’s latest gun policy rollout, which he will announce at a Boys & Girls Club, comes amid a deadly year.
Almost four months into 2023, there have been 109 mass shootings in which four or more people were injured or killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive. As the violence continues after the passage of the first major federal gun legislation in 30 years, gun safety groups have pleaded with Biden to act as Congress appears unlikely to enact more measures. "These are not controversial solutions anywhere expect for in Washington, D.C., in Congress,” said a senior administration official. “The majority of kitchen tables across the country — they support universal background checks. And the action the president is proposing — to move closer to universal background checks — is just common sense.” The president’s executive order calls for his administration to speed up the implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Within 60 days, every agency involved in the legislation’s rollout will be required to send Biden a report outlining progress and additional steps needed to push the law forward. The executive order directs members of Biden’s Cabinet to focus on raising public awareness of red flag laws and safe storage of guns and to address the loss and theft of firearms. The president will take additional steps aimed at holding gun manufacturers accountable, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to analyze and report how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors. Just as the Federal Emergency Management Agency responds during a hurricane, Biden will ask members of his Cabinet to coordinate a response plan to address short and long-term needs in communities struck by mass shootings.