Former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden unveiled his gun violence plan Wednesday, and it would make the biggest changes to U.S. gun laws in decades.
Biden’s gun control plan includes an assault weapons ban, more resources toward the enforcement of existing laws, a public push for the development of “smart guns,” and incentives for states to adopt “red flag” laws, which allow courts to confiscate guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others and develop gun-licensing systems.
Biden has helped implement some of the gun laws that exist today. According to Vox, as a senator in 1993, Biden helped pass the federal background checks law, and a year later he supported the controversial 1994 crime bill, which included a 10- year assault weapons ban.
“It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited,” Biden’s campaign said. “As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies.”
While Biden’s plan is not as wide-ranging and ambitious as his former candidates in the Democratic primary, it would still amount to the most significant changes to gun laws in two decades.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) proposed a federal licensing system—one that would require everyone in the U.S. to obtain a license to buy and own firearms. Biden’s proposal will provide financial incentives to states who adopt licensing, but the plan will not require states to join.
Biden has criticized federal licensing in the past saying it “will not change whether or not people buy what weapons—what kinds of weapons they can buy, where they can use them, how they can store them.”
However, research shows that licensing is among the more effective proposals for reducing gun deaths, more so than universal background checks or an assault weapons ban.
Biden’s plan also doesn’t include a mandatory buyback program like Booker and Beto O’Rourke had in their plans. The plan includes a voluntary buyback program through which gun owners can sell assault weapons, but if they don’t, owners will have to go through a background check and register the weapons.
Biden’s plan would also close several loopholes in the gun buying and selling industry. Biden’s plan would repeal a law that made it harder to sue gun manufacturers and sellers when they make or sell guns they should have known would be diverted to criminal uses. The plan would also limit how many guns one person can buy in a month and would require the safe storage of weapons.
Gun control has been an issue that Democrats have been focused on in recent years due to mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, last year combined with the 2018 school shootings in Florida and Texas. Before the primary debates, Democratic survey respondents said gun violence is one of the top issues they want action on.