President Joe Biden on Monday announced new gun control measures to classify kits as firearms and crack down on “ghost guns,” which can be purchased online and assembled in under an hour.
The gun parts do not have serial numbers, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says nearly 700 were recovered from homicides or attempted homicides between 2016 and 2021. Law enforcement officials say they were able to trace fewer than 1% of the “ghost” weapons seized in the period.
Manufacturers will be required to be licensed and include serial numbers on the parts, commercial sellers must perform background checks before purchases, and the kits are to be categorized as firearms subject to the Gun Control Act.
The National Rifle Association slammed the move as “yet another hollow plan” by the administration that will not stop gun violence. NRA managing director of public affairs Andrew Arulanandam faults the White House for not taking violent criminals off the streets and instead acting to appease wealthy donors. He cites the “lenient bail system and the revolving door justice system” for keeping criminals free and violence soaring.
The president also announced his nomination of Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney from Ohio, as director of the ATF. Biden’s first nominee, gun control activist David Chipmen, was withdrawn from consideration in September as bipartisan opposition stalled the confirmation.
Dettelbach served the Justice Department for two decades, and if confirmed will be the first formally appointed leader of the agency since 2015. John Feinblatt, president of gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, lauded the nomination and said Dettelbach will end the ATF’s “culture of complicity with the gun industry.”
Before Biden’s Monday announcements, advocacy group Gun Owners of America said it will file suit against the ghost guns measure to prevent what it calls a violation of the Second Amendment. Gun rights supporters urge Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to block the rule’s implementation.
Supporters of the move term it a “common sense” directive, and Biden struck back Monday against critics he claimed will call the rule “extreme.” It is unclear how much these weapons, which include those manufactured using 3-D printers, are involved in the nationwide surge in deadly violence over the past two years.