The Trump administration on Friday proposed sweeping gun-control changes to the National Institutes of Health, which are widely seen as crucial to combating the growing epidemic of gun violence.
The move would also expand the agency’s role in tracking gun violence to include other aspects of the nation’s gun laws, such as the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The administration’s proposal would allow the NIH to track the number of people who have been shot or killed by a firearm, and it would extend the agency to include the deaths of police officers and federal workers.
The NIH, a private nonprofit agency that supports research on health and medicine, is the only federal agency with the authority to conduct research on guns.
As part of the proposal, the NIH would establish a panel to review research on the effects of gun laws and policies, including the assault weapons ban.
The panel would also include experts from the private sector, the public sector and universities, as well as representatives of gun owners, the NRA and gun rights advocates.
While the proposed changes are intended to prevent another mass shooting, some lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have expressed concern that the proposed rule changes could lead to an increase in the number or number of firearms sold and used in crime.
The National Rifle Association is not opposed to the NIH rules but is concerned that they would have a disproportionate impact on gun owners.
In a statement Friday, NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the agency is committed to advancing science and research, including protecting the lives and health of Americans.
“The NIH will continue to protect the public health by protecting the rights of individuals to own and use firearms,” Fauchi said.
NICS director David Shulkin said the new rules would also “reduce the burden on law-abiding gun owners” and would help ensure that the NIH is a place where researchers can conduct research that will help advance the understanding of gun issues.
Trump administration officials are also considering a rule change to ban the sale of large capacity magazines, which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, according to The Washington Post.
Under that proposal, all gun sales would be banned except for military-type assault weapons, which would still be allowed.
Several Republican lawmakers have called for the NRA to lobby Congress to change the rules to make it easier for gun owners to obtain magazines that hold more rounds.
Under the proposed change, only federal gun owners would be able to purchase magazines.
There would be a ban on all sales by anyone who owns a firearm or is a person who has a background check required to purchase a firearm.
It is unclear what other changes could be made in the proposal.
The NIH would not be able in the near future to enforce its existing rules on ammunition.