White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday afternoon that President Joe Biden is considering “executive action” on gun control, effectively bypassing Congress to push an anti-gun rights agenda.
Speaking at her daily press conference, Psaki said Biden was considering a “range of options” but that the use of an executive order was not off the table.
“We are considering a range of levers, including working through legislation, including executive action,” Psaki said. “That has been under discussion and will continue to be under discussion.”
Psaki added that, as Vice President under then-president Barack Obama, Biden was tasked with researching whether and how a White House executive order could be used to curb gun rights.
“He as vice president was leading the effort on determining executive actions that could be taken on gun safety measures, it’s something that he has worked on, he’s passionate about, he feels personally connected to. But there’s an ongoing process and I think we feel we have to work on multiple channels at the same time,” she said.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Biden delivered remarks on the subject of gun control, but steered clear of the topic of executive action, instead choosing to press Congress to pass a pair of House bills expanding federal background checks on weapons purchases and closing the so-called “gun show loophole” which Democrats claim allows individuals to purchase weapons from certain sellers at certain events without an investigation.
Biden also stressed a need to outlaw “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” but did not give details on how he would address either, nor specifics on what he considered an assault weapon or a high capacity magazine.
“I got that done as a senator. It brought down mass shootings, we can do it again,” Biden said Tuesday, referring to the 1990s-era assault weapons ban that expired under President George W. Bush. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again.”
“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future. And to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act. We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” Biden said.
The House and Senate have no gun bans pending, however. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently holding hearings to determine whether there is a future for gun control legislation in Congress, but Democrats hold only a narrow Senate majority, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the key swing vote, largely sides with Republicans on gun rights issues.
It is also not clear what Biden could accomplish on the issue of gun control through executive action. Executive actions are tricky, and one that would curb an explicit constitutional right would be trickier still. Previously, the White House has proposed very limited executive orders on guns, specifically orders requiring background checks for home-made, 3D printed, or makeshift guns known as “ghost guns.”
Senators were pressuring the White House to close another background check loophole, the so-called “Charleston loophole” that “allows a gun to be transferred from licensed gun dealers before a completed background check,” but “Biden aides were reluctant,” per Politico.