The Biden administration will reportedly announce new regulations concerning the manufacture and sale of “ghost guns” this week. According to the AP, the Justice Department is set to finalize the new rules after growing pressure from the White House to crack down on violent gun crime, which has risen sharply since the emergence of COVID-19.
At a glance
- The Biden administration will soon release a long-awaited set of rule changes meant to crack down on ghost guns
- Ghost guns are firearms manufactured without a serial number and sold without a license, typically online
- Law enforcement officials say that ghost guns pop up at crime scenes and undercover operations with more regularity
For nearly a year, Biden’s new ghost gun regulations made their way through the regulatory process. Gun safety groups and Democratic lawmakers recently intensified calls to slow the sale of ghost guns. The government defines ghost guns as privately made firearms without serial numbers. Under the new guidelines, firearms dealers would have to run background checks before they sell ghost gun kits that contain the necessary parts needed to assemble a firearm.
More importantly, the new guidance will legally change the definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished gun parts. Many of these parts currently sell online legally without any official markings and with no need for a license.
“It’s high time for a ghost gun exorcism before the proliferation peaks; and before more people get hurt — or worse,” the Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, said in a statement. “My message is a simple one. No more waiting on these proposed federal rules.” Ghost guns are “too easy to build, too hard to trace, and too dangerous to ignore.”
President Biden’s new rules will supposedly crackdown on criminals selling ghost guns on a black market
Justice Department statistics reveal that law enforcement recovered 24,000 ghost gun parts at crime scenes from 2016 to 2020.
In its proposed rule changes, the ATF said it was also seeking federal government licensing for dealers to sell ghost gun parts moving forward. The new rules would also require these federally licensed firearms dealers to add a serial number to any unserialized guns for sale.
For many years, federal officials have reported an increased black market for homemade rifles and handguns. In addition to finding more ghost guns at crime scenes, law enforcement says federal agents see the guns regularly in undercover sales from gang members and other criminals.
Local police departments across the country have also been reporting more such guns and parts turning up in routine busts. The New York Police Department, for example, said officers found 131 unserialized firearms since January.
In order to build an untraceable gun, a manufacturer needs to produce a part called a lower receiver. An unfinished receiver — sometimes referred to as an “80-percent receiver” — currently sells legally online. No serial numbers or other markings distinguish it in some cases. Also, sellers do not require a license.
Gun advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers will likely push back against the new laws citing a slippery slope mentality.