President Joe Biden has issued an executive order aimed at increasing the number of background checks carried out during gun sales. The order does not make universal background checks

mandatory, which Biden has urged Congress to pass through legislation. Instead, the order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to clarify what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. Federal law stipulates that individuals selling guns must be federally licensed and check the backgrounds of buyers. Under the order, Garland will have the discretion to ensure that gun sellers who are "willfully violating the law" or unaware of background requirements become compliant.

Biden has faced mounting pressure to address gun violence following a series of mass shootings this year, but his proposals to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and require universal background checks lack the necessary votes in the Republican-controlled House. The order moves the United States "as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation," the White House said.

In addition to increasing background checks, the order directs federal agencies responsible for implementing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed by Congress last year, to detail how they are implementing it within 30 to 60 days. A key piece of the legislation expands background checks on gun buyers 21 and younger to include their mental health and juvenile justice records. The order also promotes the use of extreme-risk protection, which is meant to complement the 19 states that have "red flag" laws that allow a court to order the removal of a person's firearms if they are considered dangerous.

The order further directs Biden's cabinet to do everything it can to promote the safe storage of firearms. As part of the order, Biden directed members of his administration to develop a proposal to improve federal government support for communities affected by gun violence.

To expose "rogue" gun dealers, the order directs Garland to publicly release, to the fullest extent possible, records from the inspection of firearms dealers that detail violations. It also orders the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market to minors and to all Americans through the use of military imagery.

Biden issued the executive order while speaking at a Boys & Girls Club in Monterey Park, California, where he grieved with family members of 11 people killed in a mass shooting there in January. The shooting, which took place in a dance studio after a Lunar New Year celebration, was a tragedy for the cultural hub of the Asian-American community. Biden read off the names and stories of the victims and recognized Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old dance studio employee who disarmed the gunman. Tsay was a guest at Biden's State of the Union address last month.

"I'm here on behalf of the American people to mourn with you, to pray with you, to let you know that you're loved and not alone," Biden said. He went on to explain that "it's just common sense to check whether someone is a felon, a domestic abuser before they buy a gun." Biden's executive order seeks to ensure that this common-sense approach is applied as widely as possible, while acknowledging the limitations of what he can achieve without support from Congress. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America