Reducing Gun Violence

The Department of Justice is taking steps to help address the continuing epidemic of gun violence affecting communities across the county. 

Model Legislation for Extreme Risk Protection Orders

On June 7, 2021, the Department of Justice announced it had published model legislation to help states craft their own “extreme risk protection order” laws.

Research has shown that states can save lives by authorizing courts to issue extreme risk protection orders that temporarily prevent a person in crisis from accessing firearms. 

The Department has published model legislation to provide a framework for states to consider as they determine whether and how to craft laws allowing law enforcement, concerned family members, or others to seek these orders and to intervene before warning signs turn into tragedy. 

The model draws on a significant number of similar laws adopted across the country.  The Department is not endorsing any particular formulation of an ERPO statute, and the model is not intended to be a comprehensive scheme that could be adopted wholesale.  Instead, it identifies key provisions, different existing approaches, and options for states to consider.  In drafting its own legislation, each state must account for its own policy, legal, constitutional, administrative, and operational considerations and requirements.  States may also wish to review any proposed federal legislation that would create incentives for establishing particular forms of ERPO laws.

View the model legislation.

New Regulation on Stabilizing Braces

On June 7, 2021, the Department announced it had issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would make clear that the statutory restrictions on short-barreled rifles apply to pistols that are equipped with certain stabilizing braces and intended to be fired from the shoulder.  The National Firearms Act imposes heightened regulations on short-barreled rifles because they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes.  But companies now sell accessories that make it easy for people to convert pistols into these more dangerous weapons without going through the statute’s background check and registration requirements.  These requirements are important public safety measures because they regulate the transfer of these weapons and help ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands.  The proposed rule will clarify when these accessories convert pistols into weapons covered by these heightened regulations.

View the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

New Regulation to Update Firearms Definition

On May 7, 2021, the Department of Justice announced it had issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would update the definitions of “firearm” and related parts for the first time since 1968.

The proposed rule would modernize the definition of “frame or receiver” and help close a regulatory loophole associated with the un-serialized privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes across the country. These unmarked firearms, known as “ghost guns,” are often assembled from kits that are sold without background checks, making them easily acquired by criminals who otherwise would not be permitted to possess a firearm.

View the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Updated June 7, 2021

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