Biden aims to ‘ghost gun’ violence with new federal rule

by Michael Balsamo

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Monday took a fresh look at ghost guns, privately made firearms without serial numbers that are on the rise in violent crimes, as he deals with gun deaths and mass shootings. Struggling to break the gridlock in Washington to address the

Speaking at the White House, Biden highlighted the work of the Justice Department to finalize new rules to crack down on ghost guns, and announced the nomination of Steve Detelbach, who served as a US attorney in Ohio from 2009 to 2016. Worked as running the Alcohol Bureau. , tobacco, firearms and explosives.

“Law enforcement is sounding the alarm,” Biden said of the ghost guns, briefly holding one up to look at the cameras in the Rose Garden. “Our communities are paying the price.”

He promised that the new rules would save lives.

Still, the guns announcement highlighted the limits of Biden’s influence in pushing for a comprehensive congressional overhaul of the nation’s firearm laws in response to both recent violent crime and continued mass shootings. Congress has stymied legislative proposals to reform gun laws for a decade, and executive actions have faced harsh headwinds in federal courts — even as the Democratic base pushes Biden to take more consequential action. Has become more assertive in calling.

Confirming Detelbach is also likely to be an uphill battle. After months of stalling due to opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in the Senate, Biden had to withdraw the nomination of his first ATF candidate, gun-control advocate David Chipman.

Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to get nominees to the ATF position through a politically difficult process since the director position was confirmed in 2006. Since then, only one nominee, former US Attorney B. Todd Jones, has been confirmed. Jones made it through the Senate in 2013 but only after six months of struggle. Jones was acting director when President Barack Obama nominated him in January 2013.

The Biden administration’s plan on guns was first reported by Politico.

For almost a year now, the Ghost Gun Rule has been making its way through the federal regulation process. Gun safety groups and Democrats in Congress have been pushing the Justice Department to end the rule for months. It will likely face heavy resistance from gun groups and litigation in the coming weeks.

America’s gun owners vowed to fight the regime immediately.

Aidan Johnston, the group’s director of federal affairs, said in a statement, “Just as we protested the Trump administration’s arbitrary ban on bump stocks, Goa will sue Biden’s ATF for blocking the implementation of this rule.” ” The group believes the rule violates the US Constitution and several federal laws.

But gun safety advocacy groups, such as Everytown for Gun Safety, which pushed the federal government for years to act on ghost guns, praised Biden’s moves and insisted that both Detelbach’s appointment and final rule deal with gun violence. will help.

“Ghost guns look like guns, they shoot like guns, and they kill like guns, but until now they haven’t been regulated like guns,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown.

Christian Heine, vice president of policy at Brady’s, another gun control group, said that Detelbach was “an impassioned public servant who has spent his career using the levers of the government to hold reckless or nefarious actors accountable.”

Justice Department figures show that about 24,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement at crime sites and reported to the government from 2016 to 2020. It is difficult to say how many people are roaming the streets, as in many cases police departments do not. Don’t approach the government about guns because they can’t be traced.

The new rule changes the current definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts, such as the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun. It says those parts must be licensed and include the serial number. Manufacturers must also conduct background checks prior to sale—as they do with other commercially manufactured firearms. The requirement applies regardless of how the firearm was made, meaning it includes individual parts, kits, or ghost guns made by 3D-printers.

Federally licensed firearms dealers must maintain vital records until they cease their business or licensed activity and then transfer the records to the ATF as they are currently required to do at the end of the licensed activity. Previously, these dealers were allowed to destroy most records after 20 years, making it harder for law enforcement to trace firearms found at crime sites.

Biden said, “Standing here with many of you this week a year ago, I instructed the attorney general to write a rule that would rein in the proliferation of ghost guns because I had trouble passing anything in Congress. was happening.”

The rule takes effect for 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

For years, federal officials have been sounding the alarm about a growing black market for homemade, military-style semi-automatic rifles and handguns. As well as turning up more frequently at crime scenes, ghost guns have increasingly surfaced when federal agents purchase guns from gang members and other criminals in undercover operations.

Some states, such as California, have enacted laws in recent years that require serial numbers to be stamped on ghost guns.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who was attending Monday’s event at the White House, hailed the move and pointed to a serious increase in ghost guns being sought by police. Shapiro said police in Philadelphia have seen a nearly 500% increase in the number of ghost guns recovered over the past two years. And just last week, a police officer was shot with an 18-year-old ghost gun, which police said had also shot three others.

“This flaw has created countless lives in our country,” Shapiro said in an interview. “Today is an important step in closing that loophole.”

He said the move would help reduce violence and help police and prosecutors bring their cases. He said the rule is also likely to help reduce the number of people who should not buy a firearm before having a gun in their hand.

“There are two challenges: One, criminals can easily buy them without doing a background check. And two, they are serializable and untraceable. ,

The key component in manufacturing an unreliable gun is what is known as a lower receiver, which is usually made of metal or polymer. An unfinished receiver—sometimes referred to as an “80-cent receiver”—can be purchased legally online with no serial number or other markings, no license required.

Police across the country are reporting spikes in ghost guns being confiscated by officers. For example, the New York Police Department said officers found 131 firearms without serial numbers since January.

A gunman who killed his wife and four others in northern California in 2017 was banned from possessing firearms, but built himself up to defy a court order before his getaway. And in 2019, a teenager used a household handgun to fatally shoot two classmates and injure three others at a school in suburban Los Angeles.

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