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On Monday, President Biden took what he calls “basic common sense” steps to decrease the use of untraceable firearms or “ghost guns” that police officers say turn up frequently at crime scenes across the country.
According to USA Today, Biden announced federal regulations which will target privately made firearms that can be assembled from do-it-yourself kits purchased online or in a store. The weapons lack serial numbers, making it difficult to impossible to trace the owner.
Biden cracks down on ghost guns.
“These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said in a Rose Garden ceremony attended by victims and families of gun violence. “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.”
Last year, about 20,000 ghost guns were recovered in criminal investigations, a tenfold increase from 2016, per the Justice Department.
So what will actually change? Lots.
Unfinished parts sold in the gun kits, such as the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun, will qualify as firearms under federal law.
Commercial manufacturers of the kits will have to be licensed and must add serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver. Commercial sellers of the kits will have to become licensed and will be required to run background checks on potential buyers before a sale, just like they must do with commercially made firearms.
The regulations include steps to put serial numbers on ghost guns already in circulation. The Justice Department will require licensed dealers and gunsmiths taking any unserialized firearm into inventory to add a serial number to that weapon.
Licensed firearms dealers will be required to keep records until they shut down their business. The records then must be transferred to the ATF. Previously, dealers were permitted to destroy most records after 20 years.
In addition to the new regulations, Biden called on Congress to ban the sale and possession of ghost guns, which was met with the familiar accusation of “violating the Second Amendment” by the gun-rights group Gun Owners of America, who vowed to sue.
States do their best amid historical Congress inaction.
As the number of crimes involving ghost guns has jumped in several parts of the USA, some states, such as California, have enacted laws to require serial numbers to be stamped on firearms. Some municipalities have filed lawsuits and other legal challenges that accuse manufacturers of violating laws and undermining law enforcement.
Under Biden’s presidential leadership, the splintered Democratic party controls the House and Senate, yet universal background checks, prohibiting assault rifle sales, investment in research, or community-based violence interventions have been and remain a pipe dream for many of their voters. By banning ghost guns, Pres. Biden will certainly save lives – just not as many as he could.