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“Gun violence is an epidemic in America,” he said. “But we should not accept it. We must act. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives. God bless the eight fellow Americans we lost in Indianapolis and their loved ones, and we pray for the wounded for their recovery.”
His press secretary, Jen Psaki, rejected suggestions that Mr. Biden appoint a gun czar, similar to the position he created to address the climate crisis. The White House argued that the main impediment to addressing the crisis was congressional Republicans, not a lack of will in the West Wing.
“I would say that advocates should pressure Republicans in the Senate, that all of you should pressure Republicans in the Senate and ask them why they are opposing universal background checks,” Ms. Psaki said after a reporter suggested that Mr. Biden was “passing the buck” by blaming Republicans.
Despite the apparent gridlock, there are signs that things might be changing.
Mr. Biden is moving ahead with several narrow executive actions, and there are new negotiations on Capitol Hill for an expansion of background checks — aided by the financial collapse of the National Rifle Association.
Among the most consequential actions so far is a personnel move: Mr. Biden has chosen David Chipman, a former federal law enforcement official, to be the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a battered agency tasked with enforcing existing federal gun laws and executive actions.
The American flag files at half-staff above the White House in Washington Friday.Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
Over the years, N.R.A.-allied lawmakers have handcuffed the A.T.F. With the tightest restrictions imposed on any federal law enforcement agency, even banning the bureau from making gun tracing records searchable by computer.