President Joe Biden recently announced new federal regulations on homemade and untraceable “ghost guns” in an effort to combat rising gun violence.
Under the new policy, the parts of the guns sold in kits online will qualify as firearms under federal law and will therefore need to be serialized.
The frame and receiver parts of the gun, which usually lack serial numbers, will now be required to have them in order to trace the weapon to its owner. Private sellers of the kits will also have to prove that they are federally licensed dealers.
The law aims to make it easier for law enforcement to trace criminals who use ghost guns and persecute them.
“These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said in an announcement to victims of gun violence at the White House. “We are going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice and, when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time.”
Each part that makes up a ghost gun can be printed on a 3D printer and is easily assembled at home.
“We call them ghost guns because they can’t be traced, but make no mistake — they are real,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “They can shoot to kill, and they do.”
The new ruling released by the Department of Justice states that in addition to adding serial numbers to the kits and mandating federal licenses, sellers must also run background checks on buyers and keep records of purchases while they remain in business.
“It’s going to help save lives, reduce crime and get more criminals off the streets,” Biden continued. “If you commit a crime with a ghost gun, expect federal prosecution.”
According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms (ATF), law enforcement agencies recovered around 20,000 suspected ghost guns last year. The ATF said that only around 1% of those guns were traceable, and nearly 700 were tied to homicides or attempted homicides.
Biden also took the opportunity to introduce his new nominee for director of the ATF, former Ohio attorney Steve Dettelbach.
“Law enforcement is a very tough job, and no person and no agency is perfect. But the president is right: The men and women of the ATF and the public that they protect deserve better support from us. I’ve seen firsthand the work that so many at the ATF do to protect us from violence. They’re dedicated, they’re professional and they’re effective,” he said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the new ruling would save lives.
“This loophole has caused our nation countless lives. Today is a critically important step to close that loophole,” Shapiro said.
“There are two challenges: One, criminals can easily buy them without going through a background check. And two, they are unserialized and untraceable.”
Shapiro said that the new law would make it harder for criminals to obtain ghost guns, which are currently rife online. DIY ghost gun assembly tutorials are also common and easily accessible on social media.
The ruling goes into effect in 120 days.