Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Vice President Kamala Harris has announced a new gun control initiative, including a state-level ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which the White House says is aimed at helping curb violence involving guns.
The White House published the new "Safer States Initiative," which officials said will "provide states with additional tools and the support they need to reduce gun violence and save lives," in a Dec. 13 press release.
As part of the initiative, the White House is calling for states to take a number of "key actions," including establishing their own state offices for preventing violence involving guns, strengthening support for survivors and victims of violence involving guns, and investing in "evidence-informed solutions" to prevent and respond to such violence.
That includes rolling out community violence interventions, establishing Crime Gun Intelligence Centers, and implementing extreme risk protection orders, among others.
President Joe Biden established the first ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which is overseen by Ms. Harris, in September 2023.
Under the new initiative, the administration is also asking states to reinforce responsible gun ownership, including by requiring safe storage of firearms and that lost and stolen firearms be reported, according to a White House fact sheet.
The Department of Justice's newly published model legislation detailing how states can require the safe storage of firearms, including in vehicles, will help aid states in crafting requirements for safe gun storage, the White House said.
Assault Weapons Ban
It will also help provide states with a framework for requiring that a person promptly report the loss or theft to law enforcement.
Additionally, President Biden's administration is asking states to strengthen gun background checks, including by enacting universal background checks legislation and "removing barriers" to completing enhanced background checks.
Finally, the president and vice president want states to "hold the gun industry accountable," including by "banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines" and enacting "firearm-specific liability laws to ensure that victims of gun violence have their day in court."
Several studies, including a recent review of five studies by the American nonprofit global policy think tank Rand Corporation, found "inconclusive evidence" that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban passed by Congress in 1994 had an effect on total homicides and firearm homicides.
Ms. Harris unveiled the new initiative at a convening of state legislators on Wednesday, where she began a speech by paying tribute to Josh Seal, who was among the 18 people killed in the Lewiston, Maine, mass shooting in October.
The shooter, Robert Card, was treated for mental health problems prior to the shooting, according to police.
Initiative Underscores 'Success in Resisting Federal Gun Control'
Ms. Harris said Mr. Seal, an American Sign Language interpreter, "signed for me all over the world," adding that his family, including his wife and children, are "very committed to public service."
"So, it’s important we speak those names," she said. The vice president went on to call violence involving guns a "crisis."
"I know that many of you have held the hands and have hugged and tried to comfort community members and your constituents and people you know who have suffered because of gun violence," she said. "And I therefore know that when we have this conversation and address this crisis that, for everyone here, it is personal."
"So, I first and foremost, say again: Thank you for not only being here but for choosing to serve—and choosing, on this subject, to have an extraordinary amount of courage to speak openly and with strength about the need for reasonable gun safety laws. And that is what we are doing. We are fighting just for what is reasonable and, of course, what is right," she said.
President Biden has taken a number of actions during his time in office focused on violence involving guns, including signing into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act last year.
However, more expansive legislation has faced resistance from Second Amendment rights advocates and Republican lawmakers.
Following Wednesday's announcement, Aidan Johnston, the director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told The Washington Post the group would fight any legislation imposing stricter rules infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
"This announcement underscores our success in resisting federal gun control," he said, adding that the "shift to state-level actions indicates a reluctance to push new anti-gun measures through Congress."
During her speech unveiling the new initiative Wednesday, Ms. Harris insisted that while she is "absolutely in favor of the Second Amendment" she is "also in favor of an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, red flag laws."