The term “ghost gun” has been used by politicians and the mainstream media for years as a broad label for firearms lacking a manufacturer-engraved serial number. Now the ghost gun debate and coming legal battle have been heating up due to a proposed rule change the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) listed in the Federal Register on May 21, 2021.
Ghost Guns and the Biden Administration
It’s no secret the Biden administration has gun control on its mind. The President’s campaign website contains extensive gun control proposals, making the proposed rule change less than surprising. The proposed rule change was originally leaked from the DOJ in a slightly shorter version than the document currently in the Federal Register. Regarding the initial information leak, the Daily Caller said, “The draft of the 107-page document obtained by The Reload … sketches the [ATF’s] proposed changes to federal regulation that will outlaw homemade firearms by unlicensed manufacturers.”
In the final document’s summary, the purpose of the proposed amendment is outlined as providing “new regulatory definitions of ‘firearm frame and receiver’ and ‘frame or receiver,’” among other terms. The summary paragraph also mentions “amending ATF’s definitions of ‘firearm’ and ‘gunsmith’ to clarify the meaning of those terms, and to provide definitions of terms such as ‘complete weapon,’ ‘complete muffler or silencer device,’ ‘privately made firearm,’ and ‘readily’ for purposes of clarity given advancements in firearms technology.”
On April 8, 2021, President Biden gave a speech in the White House Rose Garden expressing his concerns about ghost guns: “I want to rein in the proliferation of so-called ‘ghost guns.’ These are guns that are homemade, built from a kit that includes the directions on how to finish the firearm. You can go buy the kit. They have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced.”
Biden stated that “anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a weapon.”
The idea that anyone can build a firearm—whether it’s a pistol or a long gun—from an 80 percent lower and assorted parts in 30 minutes is misleading. It’s also inaccurate to make a blanket statement implying or outright claiming criminals and terrorists are buying those parts in staggering numbers. Statistically, criminals are far more likely to attempt to file off serial numbers or to use stolen firearms in the commission of crimes. The instances of self-built firearms being used in crimes are exceedingly rare compared to crimes committed using serialized, stolen firearms.