Press Release

September 15, 2023
Cardin, Van Hollen Join Democratic Lawmakers in Urging President Biden to Take Executive Action to Address Gun Violence Epidemic, Limit Sale of Assault Weapons

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen joined 77 of their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House in writing a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to take further executive action to combat gun violence and limit the sale of assault weapons. These executive actions to prevent gun violence are endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

“We commend the important steps your Administration has recently taken on this issue, including steps to expand the scope of dealers required to conduct background checks, increase public access to information about dealers who violate the law, and more,” wrote the lawmakers.  “Nevertheless, the American people expect the federal government to use every possible tool to reduce gun violence. Congress must act — and it is an ongoing tragedy that Republican leadership refuses to do so. We also believe you can exercise your executive authority to take additional action to address gun violence without congressional action.”

In March of 2023, President Biden issued an expansive executive order to address gun violence, which included directing the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement principles to further public safety practices through Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition of firearms and directing the Attorney General to publicly release information about dealers who have violated federal firearm laws, among other provisions. Still, 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for mass shootings in recent American history, with almost 500 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. 

“The epidemic of gun violence demands that you use the full power of the executive branch,” the lawmakers continued. “With Republicans in Congress blocking further legislative action to reduce gun violence, we urge you to leverage the full scope of your executive authority on this issue.”

The lawmakers laid out a list of policy proposals the Biden Administration could undertake as part of its push to address gun violence through executive action. The proposed policies include: 

  • Instructing DoD and other federal agencies that purchase firearms to implement standards for procuring taxpayer-funded firearms only from manufacturers that agree to adopt a code of conduct. The code of conduct could include declining to sell military-grade weapons to civilians and only selling to responsible dealers who refuse to proceed with a sale without a completed background check, even when they are legally authorized to do so.
  • Reevaluating the list of guns eligible for import under the “sporting purposes” exception, which could significantly reduce the import of dangerous assault weapons.
  • Transferring authority over assault rifle exports back to the State Department from the Commerce Department, reversing the Trump Administration’s shift of authority to Commerce, which allowed a surge in exports of these deadly weapons.
  • Encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to issue a policy statement on “unfair or deceptive” gun ads that falsely assert that firearm ownership increases household residents’ physical safety from gun violence.
  • Directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its interpretation of the Tiahrt Amendment in order to expand the types of firearm trace data that can be released to the public, including to researchers, litigants, and journalists. 

“These proposals are just examples of the additional actions your Administration can take to reduce gun violence and protect our communities from the next mass shooting. With Republicans in Congress refusing to act, the American people are relying on your Administration to ensure that they can move through their daily lives without fear of firearms on the streets, in public establishments, and in their homes,” concluded the lawmakers. 

The letter was also signed by Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); and Representatives Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Troy Carter (D-La.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Henry “Hank” Johnson (D-Ga.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.), Morgan McGarvey (D-Ky.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.), Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), David Trone (D-Md.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).