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Biden to announce executive actions on gun control, name ATF nominee

The actions include proposals to curb the proliferation of homemade "ghost guns" and to require the Justice Department to publish model "red flag" legislation for states to follow.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is expected to announce a series of executive actions Thursday on gun control and to nominate a prominent gun control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, White House officials said.

Biden has faced pressure from Democrats and gun control activists to take immediate action to address gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and California.

Biden is expected to direct the Justice Department to issue proposals to curb the proliferation of "ghost guns" and a proposal to better regulate stabilizing braces. He will ask the Justice Department to publish model "red flag" legislation for states to follow, as well.

Ghost guns — homemade guns often made from parts bought online — do not have traceable serial numbers, while a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle while not being subject to the same regulations that a rifle of similar size would be. The shooter in Boulder, Colorado, last month used a stabilizing brace.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to petition state courts to temporarily block people from obtaining firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

Biden will also direct the Justice Department to issue a report on firearms trafficking, which hasn't been done since 2000. An administration official argued that that would give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking.

Biden is also expected announce that his administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions that provide strategies for "reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration," according to a fact sheet shared by the White House.

"This is an initial set of actions to make progress on President Biden's gun violence reduction agenda," an official said. "The administration will be pursuing legislative and executive actions at the same time. You will continue to hear the president call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence."

David Chipman, Biden's ATF pick, is a senior policy adviser at Giffords, the gun control advocacy group led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. He was a special agent at ATF for 25 years.

ATF leaders have historically faced trouble getting confirmed in the Senate. The last head of the bureau to be confirmed was B. Todd Jones in 2013. Before Jones, the bureau went without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years.

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Since Jones stepped down in 2015, ATF has had only acting directors. Regina Lombardo, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, is the acting director now.

Although Biden promised during his campaign to take a number of actions to address gun control, activists have been dismayed that it has not been an early priority for his administration, especially as the recent mass shootings have sparked new debate about how to tackle gun violence.

At a news conference late last month, Biden indicated that he was focused on other legislative priorities, such as his infrastructure plan.

"It's a matter of timing," he said. "As you've all observed, successful presidents, better than me, have been successful in large part because they know how to time what they're doing, order it, decide priorities, what needs to be done."

CORRECTION (April 7, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the name of the city in Colorado where a mass shooting recently took place. That city is Boulder, not Bolder.