Biden Issues Entirely Reasonable Ghost Gun Regulation For Gun Nuts To Freak Out About
Gun homicides have been on the rise over the last two years — an increase the ATF has attributed in part to the sale and use of unregistered, untraceable "ghost guns," which have provided prospective killers with an opportunity to commit the perfect murder. Unlike traditional firearms, DIY ghost gun kits do not require a background check to buy and do not have serial numbers that could be traced back to an owner. And for the aspiring mass shooter, they even make conversion devices that can turn a regular old semiautomatic handgun into an illegal machine gun. How convenient!
Or at least it was convenient. The Biden administration took to the Rose Garden yesterday afternoon to introduce a new final rule that will require all ghost gun kits to be considered firearms, requiring them to have a serial number and for those who sell them to keep records, the same as they would for regular guns.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco also welcomed Mia Tretta, a young woman who survived a school shooting that was committed with a ghost gun. Tretta told the story of how she had been shot in the stomach, while her best friend, who was right next to her, was shot and killed. The ghost gun the 16-year-old shooter used had been purchased by his father, who was not allowed to own a real gun.
"If you buy a couch you have to assemble, it's still a couch. 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," Biden explained, before walking over to an actual ghost gun kit and demonstrating how easy it is to put one together.
Last year alone, there were approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations – a ten-fold increase from 2016. Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on other firearms, law enforcement has an exceedingly difficult time tracing a ghost gun found at a crime scene back to an individual purchaser.
This final rule bans the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns, such as unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that individuals can buy online or at a store without a background check and can readily assemble into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes with equipment they have at home. This rule clarifies that these kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale – just like they have to do with other commercially-made firearms.
Biden also announced former US attorney Steve Dettelbach as his new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. A statement from the White House asserts that Dettelbach “has a proven track record of working with federal, state, and local law enforcement to fight violent crime and combat domestic violent extremism and religious violence — including through partnerships with the ATF to prosecute complex cases and take down violent criminal gangs.”
As usual, it is hard to imagine why any reasonable person would have a problem with treating ghost guns like any other guns. Unreasonable people, however, are horrified.
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie shared his opposition to the new rule on Sunday, along with his belief that the Biden administration had no authority to make it, tweeting, "The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 (literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution) says Congress makes law, not POTUS!"
.@RepThomasMassie is spot on - Biden\u2019s proposal to create a comprehensive national gun registry and end the online sale of gun parts without the passage of a new law exemplifies his disregard for the Second Amendment.https://twitter.com/RepThomasMassie/status/1513312153687711751\u00a0\u2026— Gun Owners of America (@Gun Owners of America) 1649637514
This law would not, in fact, prevent anyone from making their own firearm. People will still be able to buy the DIY ghost gun kits, but they would be sold the same way and with the same regulations and registration requirements as traditional guns. Additionally, people would actually still be free to construct their own unregistered firearms without the help of a DIY kit, if they are crafty enough to make them from scratch.
The Gun Owners of America also shared their thoughts on Twitter, quote tweeting Rep. Massie and writing "Biden’s proposal to create a comprehensive national gun registry and end the online sale of gun parts without the passage of a new law exemplifies his disregard for the Second Amendment."
On Twitter, multiple MAGA accounts shared Tweets with the text "The first Revolutionary War was fought with ghost guns. So will the second. Fuck Joe Biden," a twist on the usual "Duh, we need these guns so we can kill all of you when we overthrow the government to get our country back." Personally I have never found that argument particular compelling, as I would prefer to not be murdered, but it's even less compelling in a post-January 6 world.
And speaking on behalf of all people who would prefer to not be murdered, I sure am glad that the Biden administration has decided to regulate a gun like a gun.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse