US Attorney General Merrick Garland unveiled two new gun safety measures Monday.
First, the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed rule 2021R-08, which would alter the definition of a rifle to include any weapon that “has objective design features and characteristics that indicate that the firearm is designed to be fired from the shoulder.” These “objective design features” include an attached stabilizing brace. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, disabled gun owners use stabilizing braces to safely operate a weapon. However, a brace can effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, creating a profitable loophole for gun manufacturers.
Garland promised to enact this measure during remarks on gun violence with President Joe Biden in April. The Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will accept public comments on the rule for 90 days after the rule is posted in the Federal Register.
The second measure is model legislation states can use to construct their own extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), or red flag laws. An ERPO law allows law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from legal gun owners who poses a public safety threat. Everytown notes that Parkland mass shooter Nikolas Cruz “repeatedly displayed threatening behavior” and “was reported to law enforcement on more than one occasion” but maintained possession of his legally purchased firearms.
The model legislation released by the DOJ allows for immediate orders based on probably cause in “qualifying emergency circumstances,” but most orders would be authorized after a hearing. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility clarifies that ERPOs are modeled after “well-established systems of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Protection Orders with careful considerations for due process and standards for evidence.”
Everytown President John Feinblatt commented on the new measures, saying, “President Biden continues to prove that he is the strongest gun safety president in history.”