President Joe Biden on Thursday announced limited steps, using his executive power rather than going to Congress, to address gun violence in the US.
His announcement came as at least one person was killed and several others wounded, also on Thursday, when a gunman opened fire at a business in central Texas, the latest of several mass shootings in the US over the past three weeks.
The shooter was believed to be an employee of the business, and a law enforcement officer was “injured while apprehending the suspect”. The shoot-out left one person dead at the scene and four others struck by gunfire.
The violence follows a string of more than a half-dozen deadly mass shootings across the US since mid-March, including rampages that killed eight people at Atlanta-area spas, 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, and four people, including a nine-year-old boy in Orange, California.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” Biden told an audience of gun control advocates at the White House. “It’s an international embarrassment.”
But even while touting the actions he took Thursday, Biden acknowledged he can only do so much without cooperation from lawmakers in Congress, which is always difficult to achieve in matters of national gun control.
He promised on the campaign trail to send a gun control bill to Congress on the first day of his administration but has yet to do so.
Among the steps announced Thursday are a proposed rule stating that a device known as a stabilising brace, capable of turning a pistol into a short-barrelled rifle, be subject to registration under the National Firearms Act.
He also wants to make it easier for people to flag family members who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms, and reduce the proliferation of “ghost guns” – homemade firearms often made from parts bought online that do not have traceable serial numbers.
He proposed nothing related to ownership of assault rifles and there will be no legislative proposal from him, though senior administration officials stress that these are only initial actions, leaving room for more to come down the road.
His announcement was welcomed by victims of gun violence and recent mass shootings, even though it comes as Congress remains paralysed on the issue.