President Joe Biden will meet with the families and victims of the Monterey Park mass shooting while he's in California on Tuesday, where he's set to deliver remarks launching largely symbolic efforts to combat gun violence in the United States.
Although Biden has taken a number of actions before to curb gun violence, the president and his administration have publicly acknowledged that any further significant measures to address the issue will not be achieved without the approval of Congress. And legislative efforts have all but stalled in the face of Republican-controlled House and a nearly deadlocked Senate.
"Few policy ideas are more popular among the American people than universal background checks, but Congress refuses to act," a senior administration official said on a call with reporters ahead of Biden's visit to Monterey Park. "This move will mean fewer guns will be sold without background checks, and therefore fewer guns will end up in the hands of felons and domestic abusers."
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In January, 11 people were killed and nine others were injured when a gunman opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park as the city's large Asian American community was celebrating the Lunar New Year weekend. There have been at least 110 mass shootings in the US so far this year, leaving more than 150 people dead and 400 injured, according data compiled by the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive.
Biden on Tuesday will direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to ensure existing laws on background checks are being followed, according to the official.
The official said Biden would direct Garland to "clarify that statutory definition" of who is required to run background checks because some firearms dealers "may not realize that they fall under that statutory definition."
"The important message here is that we are going to be increasing the number of background checks by ensuring that all background checks required by law are conducted," the official said.
The president will also call on his Cabinet to take several actions, including improving public awareness of so-called "red flag" laws and addressing the loss or theft of firearms during shipping. And he will continue to call on Congress to take more action to reduce gun violence, including banning assault weapons.
Since taking office, Biden has issued executive actions to rein in so-called ghost guns, promote safe storage of firearms, bolster police forces and expand community violence intervention programs.
Last year, Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law -- the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expired 10-year assault weapons ban of 1994. Among its many provisions, the law includes money for school safety, mental health, state crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which provides a more comprehensive background check for those between the ages of 18 and 21 who want to buy guns.
Biden helped usher in the a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach, after the agency went seven years without a permanent, Senate-approved leader at the helm.
The stop in Monterey Park is part of a larger West Coast swing this week, which the president is using to showcase his efforts to address a wide range of issues, such as health care and international defense. After California, Biden heads to Las Vegas later Tuesday where he will participate in a fundraiser with the Democratic National Committee.
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