US President Joe Biden issued an order targeting homemade guns, known as “ghost guns” because they are unregistered and untraceable.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” he said on Thursday.
The president is enacting new measures through an executive order, meaning he does not need approval from Congress.
It includes efforts to set rules for certain guns, bolster background checks and support local violence prevention.
However, the president will have an uphill task. The right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and many people see gun control laws as infringing on this constitutional right.
Mr Biden’s executive order gives the Justice Department 30 days to propose a rule that will help reduce the number of so-called “ghost guns”.
These guns are self-assembled, which means they do not contain a serial number and cannot be traced. Background checks are also not required to purchase the assembly kits.
“Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a weapon,” Mr Biden said.
Experts say that these homemade guns are increasingly being used in crimes. Over 40% of guns being seized in Los Angeles are ghost guns, according to federal firearms officials.
Mr Biden is also giving the Justice Department two months to come up with a rule on stabilising braces for pistols. Under the rule, a pistol used with a stabilising brace would be classified as a short-barrelled rifle, which requires much more stringent background checks under the National Firearms Act.
The Justice Department has also been asked to draft a “red flag law” which states can then use to create their own legislation. These laws authorise the courts and law enforcement to remove guns from people thought to be a risk to the community.
Mr Biden’s proposed measures have been praised by gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
However, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the biggest gun rights lobby group in the US, described the measures as “extreme” and said it was ready to fight.