Apr 12, 2022

President Biden Announces New Action by his Administration to Fight Gun Crime 4/11/22 Transcript

President Biden Announces New Action by his Administration to Fight Gun Crime
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President Biden Announces New Action by his Administration to Fight Gun Crime 4/11/22. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1: (00:01)
Please have a seat. Everyone, good afternoon. President Joe Biden, members of Congress, members of our administration, friends and fellow Americans, when gunfire rings out in a community, it brings fear and it brings pain to the victims, to those who love them to the parents who tell their children to run into the bathtub when they hear gunfire on the street outside, because it is the safest place in the home from a straight bullet. Gun violence brings pain to the entire community, and by extension to the whole of society.

Speaker 1: (00:52)
As a prosecutor, I brought many perpetrators of gun violence to justice, but I knew even after a successful prosecution the hurt and the loss and the fear often still remained. To the survivors of gun violence who are here with us today and to the friends and family members of those we have lost, I thank you for your incredible determination in the face of so much pain. It is a deep honor to stand with you today.

Speaker 1: (01:32)
As we know all too well, our nation continues to be played by an epidemic of gun violence. The president has worked for decades to end this terror. For my whole career addressing gun violence, has been one of my top priorities, first, as a courtroom prosecutor, then as the elected district attorney of San Francisco, when we created a gun specialist unit to go after violent offenders, then as attorney general of California, where we worked within our California Bureau of Firearms to investigate and seize firearms for those who unlawfully possess them.

Speaker 1: (02:14)
I have seen firsthand, how our nation’s epidemic of gun violence has been driven by the prolification, proliferation, excuse me, of guns in our communities. Increasingly in recent years, by the proliferation of ghost guns. Ghost guns can be purchased on the Internet and assembled at a kitchen table. They can be bought without a background check by people who otherwise would be legally prohibited from gun ownership, domestic abusers, gun traffickers, individuals convicted of violent crimes, and even young children.

Speaker 1: (02:59)
Traditional guns are required to have serial numbers, which can help law enforcement identify a firearm that has been stolen from its lawful owner or found at the scene of a crime. Ghost guns have no serial numbers. They are practically untraceable, making it more difficult for law enforcement to hold to account those who use weapons to do violence because of how easy they are to access and how difficult they are to trace.

Speaker 1: (03:32)
Ghost guns pose an especially grave threat to the safety of our communities. That is why as the United States senator, I was proud to co-sponsor a bill to manufacture and end the manufacturing, excuse me, of sale of ghost guns. It is why we are here today to announce new actions, to get ghost guns off our streets and to protect our communities from gun violence. The Department of Justice plays a critical role in addressing gun violence in our communities. And the actions we are taking today would not be possible without their partnership. So I’m proud to now welcome a leader who has spearheaded much of the department’s work on this important issue. Deputy attorney general, Lisa Monica.

Lisa Monica: (04:35)
Thank you very much, madam vice president. Mr. President, Mia, there is no higher priority for the Department of Justice than keeping the American people safe. That is why every day we work with our community and law enforcement partners to combat violent crime through prevention and through prosecutions. Too often though murders and other serious crimes are committed with guns. Each victim of gun violence is someone’s loved one, a neighbor, a friend. We stand together today in recognition of that loss and alongside all of those who have been touched by the tragedy of gun violence. We also stand together with resolve and with hope for the future.

Lisa Monica: (05:32)
Just over one year ago, the president, the vice president and the attorney general stood in this very spot to announce new steps to curb gun violence. One such critical step is reigning in so-called ghost guns. These are guns that have no serial numbers. They are nearly impossible for law enforcement to trace. Many are sold without a background check. They’re accessible to almost anyone. They often come in kits. They can be bought online. They can be assembled quickly with little or no training. That means that someone can convert parts in a box into a working gun with alarming ease.

Lisa Monica: (06:21)
Now we call them ghost guns because they can’t be traced, but make no mistake, they are real. They can shoot to kill and they do. For years, criminals have sought out these unmarked guns to murder and to meme. That’s why the attorney general has signed a rule that updates our regulations to keep up with changes in technology. The goal to keep untraceable guns off of the streets, out of the hands of criminals and others who are prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. Some of the key changes include updating old definitions to ensure that gun laws apply to all firearms, including ghost guns, requiring gun dealers to run background checks on kits containing parts that can readily be convert into a gun, facilitating tracing by requiring firearms dealers to apply serial numbers to existing ghost guns, that they then take into inventory. Because of these updates, law enforcement will have additional crime gun intelligence to stop gun violence, to seek justice for victims of violent crimes, and to get guns used in crimes off of our streets.

Lisa Monica: (07:49)
Today’s announcement is one of many efforts by the Department of Justice to protect our communities from violent crime and gun violence. We continue to go after and disrupt illegal gun trafficking networks. We continue to go after and hold accountable the most violent offenders. We are working every day with our partners and law enforcement and with community leaders to craft specific strategies to combat violent crime and keep communities safe.

Lisa Monica: (08:26)
We will not stop until we reduce violent crime and save lives. As the attorney general has said, the department will continue to apply every single tool at our disposal to fulfill that obligation. Now it is my great honor to introduce Mia Treda, an inspiring young woman whose story illustrates why we’re here today and why these actions are so important. Thank you.

Mia Treda: (09:07)
Thank you so much, deputy attorney general. Good afternoon. As she said, my name is Mia Treda and it’s an honor to be here today, and not just because it’s the White House, but because I’m speaking on behalf of two classmates who can’t be here with us, one of whom was my best friend. When I woke up on November 14th, 2019, my biggest worry of the day was a Spanish test. I was a freshman at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, determined to get good grades. So as soon as I got to school, I made a beeline for the quad to meet up with my best friend, Dominic Blackwell. It’s hard for me to talk about Dominic. Like me, Dominic had big dreams, like doing well in school and planning for our futures. We spent the morning like any other, laughing talking.

Mia Treda: (10:03)
I spent the morning like any other, laughing and talking, until we heard a loud pop. It was a gunshot, followed by six more. One of the bullets hit me in the stomach. Somehow I was able to get up and run away, but Dominic couldn’t. I was airlifted to the hospital and spent hours in surgery having a bullet removed from my abdomen that was millimeters away from my major artery. Then my parents told me the terrible truth. Dominic had died, and so had another classmate, Gracie Anne Muehlberger, a 15-year-old girl with an infectious laugh, and a community was left shattered. I later learned that we had been shot by a 16-year-old student, for reasons I will never know. He had brought his father’s weapon to school, a firearm I would come to know as a ghost gun.

Mia Treda: (11:06)
Ghost guns are untraceable, build-it-yourself firearms that look like a gun, shoot like a gun, and kill like a gun, but have not been regulated like a gun. I’ve also learned that as a student, I don’t just have to worry about Spanish tests, but about my life. School shootings with ghost guns are on the rise, and the most lasting thing I have learned, other than the loss of friends or the shattering of my youth, is that nothing has relieved the pain in my heart like working to prevent more senseless shootings. So my family and I joined Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action, and we worked with thousands of other young activists and survivors to prevent more things like this happening. They turned my pain into progress, and that’s why we’re here it today. Celebrating progress, life saving progress.

Mia Treda: (12:12)
Because now, finally, we have a president who realizes that thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. A president who has been standing up to the gun lobby for decades and winning. A president who has been standing up for survivors like me and so many others. A president who is taking bold, meaningful action to stop the spread of ghost guns. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my great honor to introduce the strongest gun-sense commander in chief ever to hold office, President Joe Biden.

Mia Treda: (13:10)
Thank you so much.

President Joe Biden: (13:20)
[inaudible 00:13:20] When you’re President, remember me, okay?

Mia Treda: (13:28)
Thank you.

President Joe Biden: (13:29)
Wow. Thank you, Madam Vice President, Deputy Attorney General Monaco, and Mia, you’re an incredible young woman. We spoke for a moment inside the Oval Office and a lot of people here who have lost someone, and too many here have lost someone, know that no matter what the occasion, how celebratory or not it is, when you have to repeat it, you relive it like it just happened a moment ago. Your poise, your confidence, and your intellect are really impressive, honey. I mean, they really are, and I think most people here can tell you’ve gone through serious loss, that the best way to deal with it is to purpose, and you found real purpose and you are impressive. Thank you for sharing your strength, for helping us remember your friend, Dominic Blackwell and Gracie Muehlberger. Dominic and Gracie’s parents are with us today. Are you prepared to stand up? I don’t want to embarrass you, but would you stand up? If you have a moment afterwards, maybe you can come in the Oval with me. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to talk to you.

President Joe Biden: (15:07)
Frank and Nancy, Bryan and Cindy, everyone here, as they say, feels your pain a little bit, particularly if they’ve suffered a serious loss. You’ve now joined a terrible fellowship of loss that many people have experienced. There are too many survivors and advocates here for me to name everyone today, but let me say the loss in this crowd is incalculable, but so is the strength, so is the strength. I believe our nation will be safer for your bravery, and I really mean that. Survivors like Mia and Manny and Claudia, a Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff who survived an ambush by a shooter with a ghost gun, represent individuals and families all across this country whose lives have been forever changed by a ghost gun. Some made national headlines, many others did not. Today, we honor your strength and your action.

President Joe Biden: (16:07)
A year ago this week, standing here with many of you, I instructed the Attorney General to write a regulation that would reign in the proliferation of ghost guns because I was having trouble getting anything passed in the Congress, but I used what we call “regulatory authority.” A year later, we’re here and we keep that promise. The gun lobby tried to tie up the regulators in paperwork for a long, long time. The NRA called this rule I’m about to announce, “extreme.” Extreme, but let me ask you, is it extreme to protect police officers, extreme to protect our children, extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t even pass a background check? Look, the idea that someone on the terrorist list could purchase one of these guns is extreme. It isn’t extreme, it’s just basic common sense.

President Joe Biden: (17:10)
If you buy a couch you have to assemble, it’s still a couch. If you order a package like this one over here, it includes the parts you need and the directions for assembling a functioning firearm, you bought a gun. Take a look. Take a look at this. It comes in this package. You can see the picture down here maybe. This is the gun. It’s not hard to put together. A little drill, hand drill at home. It doesn’t take very long. Anyone can order it in the mail. Anyone.

President Joe Biden: (17:50)
Folks, a felon, a terrorist, a domestic abuser can go from a gun kit to a gun in as little as 30 minutes. Buyers aren’t required to pass background checks because guns have no serial numbers, these guns. When they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced. Harder to find and prove who used them, meaning you can’t connect the gun to the shooter and hold them accountable.

President Joe Biden: (18:19)
In fact, the ATF reports that they’ve been able to trace less than 1% of ghost guns reported by law enforcement, so it makes sense that police across the country are increasingly finding ghost guns at crime scenes. By the way, ghost guns can be “rifles,” essentially assault weapons as well. This is just one version of the kit you can buy. Last year alone, law enforcement reported approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. That’s a tenfold increase in these ghost guns from 2016. Tenfold in five years.

President Joe Biden: (19:07)
These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals. We’re going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice, and when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time. Law enforcement is sounding the alarm. Our communities are paying the price and we’re acting. Today, the United States Department of Justice is making it illegal for a business to manufacture one of these kits without a serial number, illegal for a licensed gun dealer to sell them without a background check. Starting today, weapons like the one used in Saugus High School and to ambush deputies that are here with us today are being treated like the deadly firearms they are. If somebody sells a ghost gun to a federally- licensed dealer, for example, a pawn shop, that dealer…

President Joe Biden: (20:03)
… licensed dealer, for example. A pawn shop. That dealer must make the firearm and market with a serial number before reselling it. All of a sudden, it’s no longer a ghost. It has a return address. And it’s going to help save lives, reduce crime, and get more criminals off the streets. And this rule is only part of our strategy to go after ghost guns. In February, the department of justice launched a national ghost gun enforcement initiative, intensifying our efforts to bring cases against those who use ghost guns illegally. We’re teaching investigators and prosecutors best practices, how to build these cases. And assigning a coordinator in each of the ATF field divisions to serve as a point person for prepping federal, state, and local law enforcement to go after ghost guns. If you commit a crime with a ghost gun, expect federal prosecution, not just state. Expect federal prosecution.

President Joe Biden: (21:09)
This rule is an important step. It’s going to make a difference, I promise you. And a lot of other things we know work to reduce gun violence and other violent crimes and save lives. That’s why I put together comprehensive strategy to supercharge what works while continuing to push Congress to act on sensible legislation to prevent gun violence. In addition to today’s rule, we’re working on four areas. First, we’re going after rogue gun dealers. The last time we had data on this was more than 20 years ago. 5% of gun dealers sold 90% of illegal guns founded crime scenes. 5% sold, 90%. These merchants of death are breaking the law for profit, selling guns that are killing innocent people. We’re cracking down on these gun dealers and the violent criminals they knowingly arm.

President Joe Biden: (22:06)
Second, we’re disrupting the illegal gun trafficking. Attorney General Garland has directed all US attorneys to prioritize combating gun trafficking that is moving guns across state lines and city boundaries. The justice department is surging prosecutorial resources to help shut down these trafficking carters, including the one known as the iron pipeline that funnels weapons from gun shops and states like Georgia to crime scenes up and down the east coast. Thirdly, we’re funding strategy we know reduced gun crime, community policing and community violence interruption. Look, I’ve said it many times. The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police and give them the tools and training to support. They need to be better partners and protectors of our communities in need.

President Joe Biden: (23:05)
I’ve already made it clear that I want city states, counties, and tribes to use some of the $350 billion we sent to them in the American rescue plan that I wrote to the first month. To reduce gun violence, hire police officers for community policing, pay police overtime, purchase crime fighting technologies. They were given the money, they can do it, spend it. And now on top of that, I’m calling for additional funding to put police on the streets for community policing. One thing we learned in the middle of the crime wave not long ago, when the cop knows by first name who owns the corner drug store, who lives in the apartment above 6B, the people who are the pastors of the churches, guess what? People talk to them. They trust them.

President Joe Biden: (24:02)
My son was the attorney general in Delaware. He’d go around and make sure everybody, literally, in these high crime rate neighborhoods, he’d give them his personal cell phone number and instructed all the cops to do the same thing. And they did. And the crime plummeted, not a joke. Look at the record. Not just my son, but all across the nation. And for the AFT to hire agents, they need to help to fight gun crime, more agents. My budget funds body cameras to make sure police work with our local communities and are accountable to the local communities. We’re also investing in community violence intervention. These are areas of local programs that utilize trusted messengers, community members and leaders, to work directly with people who are most likely to commit a gun crime or become victims of gun crime. Get to them early. It works. It works. They intervene before it’s too late.

President Joe Biden: (25:03)
Fourth, we’re funding jobs and training for young people. Summer programs, drug treatment, mental health, housing availability, criminal justice reform, and reentry support for people coming home after incarceration. Right now, you get let out of prison after serving your time, you get a bus ticket and 25 bucks. You end up under the same bridge you left two, five, 10 years earlier. If you serve your time, you qualify for Pell grants, you qualify for housing, you qualify for food. You qualify to get back into the community. Give them a fighting chance.

President Joe Biden: (25:41)
These are all demonstrated ways to reduce crime. And I’m strongly urging city states, counties, and tribes to use the rescue plan funding we sent them to do more in each of these areas. And they need to do more and do it quickly before the summer, when crime typically surges around America. So, we’re pushing in each of these areas, but none of this absolves Congress, with all due respect to my members of Congress here, they’re the wrong people I’d be talking to for the responsibility to act. We need Congress to pass universal background checks. Universal background checks. And I know it’s controversial, but I got it done once. Ban of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

President Joe Biden: (26:38)
I was getting criticized when I first passed this law when I was a Senator. And guess what? I was down in Southern Delaware, do a lot of hunting and fishing down there. And I was walking up one of the creek beds and the guy standing there said, “You want to take my gun?” I said, “I don’t want to take your gun.” I said, “Well, you’re telling me I can’t have more than X number of bullets in my gun.” And I said, “What do you think? The deer you’re hunting wear Kevlar vest? What hell you need 20 bullets for? You must be a hell of a terrible shot.”

President Joe Biden: (27:11)
I’m serious. Think about it. Think about the mass shootings. This man needs 100 rounds. It’s a weapon of war. It has nothing to do with recreation. Outright ban on the sale and possession of un-serialized guns. Eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability is the only outfit. They’re the only outfit in the country that is immune. Imagine had the tobacco industry been immune to being sued, come on. In February, the families of nine of the Sandy Hook shooting victims achieved a settlement against the maker of guns that was used to kill their children. The Sandy Hook folks are here. Well, you embarrassed to ask you to stand up. These folks right here did more to keep all this going than anybody. We owe you, man. We owe you.

President Joe Biden: (28:19)
Never goes away, does it? God loves you. Look, this is incredibly rare because gun manufacturers are more immunity from liability than any other American industry, so they’ve never had to take responsibility for the death and instruction their products cause. But as part of this settlement, Remington agreed to release thousands of pages of internal documents. You did that, and here is why it’s so important. Remember, it wasn’t until we saw the internal documents that we really understood what cigarette manufacturers are doing to our kids and our families. Now, we may begin to see what gun manufacturers are and are not doing when it comes to making and marketing their deadly products. And by the way, it’s going to sound bizarre. I support the second amendment. You have a right. But from the very beginning, the second amendment didn’t say you can own any gun you want as big as you want.

President Joe Biden: (29:12)
You couldn’t buy a cannon when, in fact, the second amendment passed. And certain people from the very beginning weren’t allowed to purchase guns. It’s nothing new. It’s just rational. Look, this should be just a start. We need to repeal the liability shield of gun manufacturing, and finally hold them accountable for false advertising and many other things they do. There’s one more action I’m taken today. There’s only been one Senate who’s confirmed the director of bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives in the Bureau’s entire history. It used to be didn’t require Senate action when I first got to the Senate, but it’s only been one since it became required confirmation. This is an agency whose mission is to protect communities from violent criminals, illegal trafficking of firearms.

President Joe Biden: (30:02)
From violent criminals, illegal trafficking of firearms, acts of arson and bombing, and a lot more. The mission of this agency isn’t controversial. It’s public safety. Today, to lead and support the dedicated men and women of the AFT, I’m proud to nominate Steve Dettelbach. Excuse me, I mispronounced your name. Director of Bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives, Steve is immensely qualified. He served the Department of Justice for two decades. He works side-by-side to support the work of federal, state, and local law enforcement, including AFT agents. One of those was a case he was personally tried as a US attorney, where the serial arsonist fire bombed the courthouses and police headquarters in Mansfield, Ohio. For his work, Steve got death threats. But the defendant got 60 years.

President Joe Biden: (30:59)
Steve also partnered with the community leaders and law enforcement to help prevent violent crime. He’s worked with the police to combat domestic extremism and to take violent criminals off the street. Steve’s record makes him ready on day one to lead these agencies. By the way, in 2009, the US Senate unanimously confirmed him to serve as US Attorney. I look forward to working with the Senate to get him confirmed once again. With what I know about him and why I’m so enthusiastic about supporting him, I’d like to introduce my nominee to lead the AFT to you. All of you. Steve, come on up here. I’ll just take this off.

Steve Dettelbach: (31:48)
Thank you, Mr. President.

President Joe Biden: (31:49)
Thank you. I’m just going to stand over here.

Steve Dettelbach: (31:57)
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Vice President Harris, for your leadership in protecting the people of this nation and for placing your trust in me to become the next director of the ATF. Thanks.

Steve Dettelbach: (32:17)
Thank you, also, Deputy Attorney General Monaco, for all that you and Attorney General Garland continue you to do at DOJ to make our nation safer, and thank you, Mia, for your incredible inspiration and courage, not just here today, but all over this nation. Thank you.

Steve Dettelbach: (32:38)
I also want to thank my incredible, supportive, and often patient family who are here. My wonderful wife, Carol, and my children, Allie and David. Please.

President Joe Biden: (32:57)
When he’s 16 years old, I’m going to draft him.

Steve Dettelbach: (33:03)
Is there an agent in the house?

Steve Dettelbach: (33:07)
But seriously, most especially, today, I want to thank the men and women of the ATF. I started as a career prosecutor back in 1992, and I have spent three decades watching and admiring agents and staff at the ATF, along with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners as they work tirelessly and courageously to protect the American people.

Steve Dettelbach: (33:35)
I would also say they work in anonymity, but that would not be completely true, because, sadly, one thing I’ve also seen over the years is that the ATF often does work in anonymity when its agents are out there risking their lives to protect us only to be thrust into the public eye when it’s time for criticism. Law enforcement is a very tough job and no person and no agency is perfect. But the president is right. The men and women of the ATF and the public that they protect deserve better support from us.

Steve Dettelbach: (34:24)
I’ve seen firsthand the work that so many at the ATF do to protect us from violence. They’re dedicated, they’re professional, and they’re effective. They don’t write the laws. Their mission every day is just to go out and enforce those laws and protect the public from a wide range of threats.

Steve Dettelbach: (34:43)
When I was US Attorney, our office partnered with the ATF and the Cleveland police as they doggedly investigated and brought a case involving the deadliest home arson in Cleveland history, killed nine people, including eight kids. I also saw the ATF partner with the FBI and our office first to find and then to bring to justice a bigot who drove from Indiana to outside Toledo to torch the largest mosque in Ohio.

Steve Dettelbach: (35:13)
Last and certainly not least, I have partnered with the ATF for decades in its crucial fight against gun violence. Whether it was taking a single violent recidivist off the street in Maryland or putting together a big racketeering case against a violent gang in Youngstown, Ohio, I have seen the ATF work with other law enforcement to make so many of our communities safer.

Steve Dettelbach: (35:44)
As we emerge from this pandemic, we’ve got to recognize that many Americans still face fear and isolation, not because of a virus, but because of an epidemic of firearms violence. It’s not a new problem and it has many causes. That’s why it’s going to take an all hands on deck partnership approach to address that issue, and the ATF will be there.

Steve Dettelbach: (36:22)
If confirmed, I promise to support the men and the women of the ATF and to do everything in our power to protect the people of this nation every single day. Thank you.

President Joe Biden: (36:34)
All right.

Steve Dettelbach: (36:34)
Mr. President.

President Joe Biden: (36:34)
Good job.

Steve Dettelbach: (36:35)
Thank you, Mr. President.

President Joe Biden: (36:43)
Thank you all for coming. By the way, he was responsible for the weather as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Steve Dettelbach: (36:52)
Thank you.

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