The Justice Department on Monday unveiled two proposals meant to curb gun violence in response to President Joe Biden’s executive orders from earlier this year.
A rule about makeshift short-barreled rifles: The DOJ said it sent a notice of proposed rulemaking with the goal of clarifying restrictions on stabilizing braces that can convert a pistol into a short-barreled rifle. The department says using such devices should be subject to the requirement of the National Firearms Act, which imposes stricter regulations on short-barreled rifles.
Thus, the DOJ suggests a change of the “rifle” definition to include any weapon with a stabilizing brace that is fired from the shoulder.
“The National Firearms Act imposes heightened regulations on short-barreled rifles because they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes. But companies now sell accessories that make it easy for people to convert pistols into these more dangerous weapons without going through the statute’s background check and registration requirements,” the department explained in a press release.
“These requirements are important public safety measures because they regulate the transfer of these dangerous weapons and help ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands. The proposed rule would clarify when these attached accessories convert pistols into weapons covered by these heightened regulations,” the DOJ wrote.
The DOJ noted that there is an exception to the rule for stabilizing braces that are designed for use by individuals with disabilities.
Red flag laws: The department also announced model legislation that would serve as guidance for states to create laws governing risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws. These protection orders allow law enforcement, family members, healthcare provides, an official at school, and even a partner to ask the court to order to prevent an individual from accessing firearms.
The model put forward by the DOJ combines two approaches that states with red flag laws have adopted and would essentially provide states with two options when creating such bills.
The first approach, described as a “warrant” statute by the agency, allows law enforcement to immediately seek to seize a person’s guns and only temporarily prevent them from accessing firearms.
The second approach, labeled by the agency as the “order” statute, allows for the prohibition of a person’s access to firearms in the long run. This approach, however, may require law enforcement officials to present the order to the person whose gun they believe they need to confiscate. If the person does not comply, law enforcement would have to obtain a search warrant to seize the guns.
The DOJ highlighted that this could give the individual time to hide their guns or commit dangerous acts.
The department explains: The legislation “would authorize the judicial issuance of no-firearms orders for dangerous individuals and the concurrent issuance of search warrants to search for and seize their firearms. It further provides that, in qualifying emergency circumstances, the subject may be served with the order concurrently with or after the search is carried out. The process would be overseen by a court to ensure the protection of the individual’s rights. Legislation authorizing ERPOs would supplement, not replace, existing laws authorizing the issuance of protection orders to prevent intimate partner violence. This legislation similarly would not displace existing state laws on involuntary commitments.”
What they’re saying: “The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities. Today we continue to deliver on our promise to help save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. We welcome the opportunity to work with communities in the weeks and months ahead in our shared commitment to end gun violence,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement.
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