These are horrifying events — and they represent but a tiny sliver of the nation’s gun carnage. Each day in the United States, more than 300 people are shot and more than 100 of them die. Some lose their lives in mass shootings that garner national attention. Others — the vast majority — die as the result of suicides or domestic homicides or street crime. In the week between the shootings at Atlanta-area spas that killed eight and the mass shooting at a Boulder, Colo., supermarket that killed 10, there were more than 850 shootings in which more than 250 people died, President Biden said Thursday.
“An epidemic . . . an international embarrassment,” Mr. Biden rightly said as he announced a series of executive actions addressing gun violence. The measures include rules to help stop the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, untraceable weapons that can be constructed from parts purchased online; tightened regulations on stabilizing braces for pistols of the kind allegedly used in the Boulder mass shooting; and publication by the Justice Department of model “red flag” laws for states to use as guides. They are modest — yet still likely to be challenged by gun rights activists who predictably see any effort to advance gun safety as an infringement of the Second Amendment.
Kudos, though, to Mr. Biden for using his limited unilateral authority, for calling on Congress to do more and for nominating the well-qualified David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has not had a permanent director since 2015 and has been hobbled by the national gun lobby and its Republican allies. Mr. Chipman, a former ATF special agent who now serves as an adviser to the gun safety organization founded by former Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, could face a fight in the closely divided Senate because of his prior advocacy of an assault weapons ban and other gun safety measures. That the Senate has been unable to move ahead with legislation that would strengthen background checks — common-sense measures supported by a majority of Americans and already passed by the House — underscores the challenges Mr. Biden faces as he pushes for more aggressive action, such as stripping gun manufacturers of protection from lawsuits.
“We’ve got a long way to go. It seems like we always have a long way to go,” Mr. Biden acknowledged. But his resolve was heartening as he stood in the Rose Garden and said “enough, enough, enough, enough” of these shootings. “The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation.” Indeed it is.