President Joe Biden announced plans Monday to regulate ghost guns which get their nickname because they don’t have serial numbers; they are untraceable.
The rule also would apply to guns made with parts from 3D-printers.
Serial marks would be stamped on the guns so they can be traced, and background checks would be mandatory before people can buy them. The guns are often sold as kits to be assembled. Almost 24,000 suspected ghost guns were found by police at potential crime scenes from 2016 to 2020, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides.
“If you buy a couch you have to assemble, it’s still a couch,” said Biden who brought a kit to assemble a gun to the press conference Monday. “If you order a package like this one over here that includes the parts that you need and directs the assembly of a functioning firearm, you bought a gun.”
Bryan Muehlberger’s 15-year-old daughter, Gracie Anne, a high school freshman, was killed with a ghost gun in November 2019 at her California school. Another student shot her in the back. The bullet punctured her left lung. Gracie drowned in her own blood.
Muehlberger and Frank Blackwell, whose 14-year-old son Dominic was killed in the same ghost gun shooting, sued the ATF and Donald Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, in 2020 over Team Trump’s failure to regulate ghost guns. The case was put on hold to give the Biden administration time to issue a rule.
Muehlberger and other gun safety advocates visited the White House Monday for Biden’s announcement.
“Just as we opposed the Trump Administration’s arbitrary ban on bump stocks, GOA will also sue Biden’s ATF to halt the implementation of this rule,” said Aidan Johnston, the organization’s director of federal affairs. The organization has multiple court challenges to block restrictions on guns. The organization also supports unlimited carrying of guns by Americans.
Biden also announced the nomination of Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney in Ohio, to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Biden’s first pick for the job, David Chipman, who worked for ATF for 25 years, withdrew after opposition from NRA-funded Republicans.
The bureau has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015.