President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have released their plan for gun violence. Courtesy of Tristan Loper via Wikimedia Commons

On March 16, 2021, one year after news of the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world by storm and took over all of our media stations, America began a return to its sad normalcy. The Atlanta Spa mass murder caused eight fatalities, six of whom were Asian women, and one other wounded. It occurred at three different Atlanta spas or massage parlors. Since then, more than 50 mass shootings have been reported, including the Boulder Shooting, which took place a mere six days later, killing 10 people, including a local on-duty police officer at a supermarket. On April 8, one person was killed and five were wounded in Bryan, Texas at a manufacturing facility shooting. On April 15, nine people were killed and seven were injured at a FedEx Ground Facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Our flag was still flying at half-staff for the victims of the horrific murder of eight primarily Asian American people in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass murder in Colorado,” President Joe Biden said.

How does what we’re seeing now compare to the gun violence during 2020 when we were consumed by the pandemic? A mass shooting is defined as an instance where four or more victims are shot, where mass murder is when there are at least four fatalities. As of April 20, 2021, the total number of gun violence deaths this year was 12,907. 14 hours later, the number had gone up to 13,024 gun violence deaths. In all of 2020, there were 610 mass shootings in comparison to the 157 that have taken place in the first four months of 2021. Further, there were 21 mass murders in 2020, while there have been 11 so far in 2021 – already half of what we saw during the entirety of last year.


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“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said. As of April 7, the President and Vice President Kamala Harris have released their plan to combat the ongoing issue. First on their agenda is stopping the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are homemade firearms that lack serial numbers, making them untraceable when they show up at a crime scene. Also, within 60 days the Justice Department will issue another proposed rule to “make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.” Arm braces make a firearm more stable and accurate while also being concealable, and appear to have been used by the alleged Boulder shooter last month.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will further publish model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order that would temporarily prohibit people in crisis from accessing guns should they present a danger to themselves or others.

As far as community awareness on the subject, the Biden administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions, proposing $5 billion over the course of eight years through the American Jobs Plan to support such programs. The United States Department of Health and Human Services is also organizing a webinar and toolkit to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs.


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The plan also requires the Justice Department to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking to supply policymakers with the current information they need to address the illegal selling of guns. To help, Biden will nominate David Chapman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). As the first director of the program since 2015, Chapman served at ATF for 25 years and now works to advance commonsense gun safety laws.

As the Biden administration works on setting forth stricter gun laws, many high-profile Republicans such as Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized the efforts as they believe the legislation will “strip law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights,” as said in a Tweet by Senator Mike Crapo. “This is not about getting rid of the Second Amendment,” Harris said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws.” While there has been large pushback by many in the party, in early March, eight House Republicans voted in favor of expanding background checks on gun purchases: Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Vern Buchanan, Carlos Gimenez, and Maria Salazar of Florida, Andrew Garbarino of New York, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.


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The coming months could prove to be a big change in regards to purchasing guns and Americans can only hope for a safer future with less heartbreaking headlines. “This is not a partisan issue among the American people,” Biden said. “This is a view by the American people as an American issue. And I’m willing to work with anyone to get these done. And it’s long past time that we act.”

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