Democrats reintroduce legislation to ban ‘ghost guns’
Democrats reintroduced legislation Tuesday that they say would ban “ghost guns,” the latest development in the party to restrict access to untraceable firearms without serial numbers.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the bill in the Senate on Friday along with 11 co-sponsors, while Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced partner legislation in the House to clamp down on the firearms, which are essentially homemade weapons that can be purchased in kits and assembled later.
The legislation, dubbed the Untraceable Firearms Act, would include the portions of “ghost guns” such as unfinished frames and receivers under federal law’s definition of “firearm.” The lawmakers introduced similar legislation in May 2020.
Such a move would mandate that gun kit manufacturers and distributors who sell the pieces operate under the same regulations overseeing the production and distribution of completed firearms, including that they have a manufacturer’s license and place serial numbers on the components. Purchasers of the pieces used to create a “ghost gun” would also have to undergo a background check.
“There’s nothing ghostly about ‘ghost’ guns – they look like guns, shoot like guns, and kill like guns. Our legislation would ensure that violent extremists, domestic abusers, and foreign terrorists can’t evade background checks and other safety measures by building weapons at home instead of buying them from a store,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
“Gun violence is a public health epidemic in our country. In recent years, the increased presence of ghost guns in our communities has made this problem even worse. These untraceable weapons make it harder for law enforcement to find and prosecute violent criminals,” added Cicilline. “This legislation will close the ghost gun loophole and make these weapons easier to trace. It’s just commonsense.”
The legislation’s introduction is the latest stage of Democrats’ efforts to clamp down on the spread of the untraceable weapons.
Four Democratic senators in March, led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), pressed President Biden to consider executive action on the issue while Congress worked on crafting legislation.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) last week rolled out a proposal that would also expand the definition of a firearm to include weapons that can be assembled at home.
“Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “This proposed rule would help keep guns out of the wrong hands and make it easier for law enforcement to trace guns used to commit violent crimes, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. Although this rulemaking will solve only one aspect of the problem, we have an obligation to do our part to keep our families and our neighborhoods safe from gun violence.”
President Biden has vowed to take action to reduce gun violence in the U.S., but legislative efforts to advance various gun control measures have failed in Congress despite several mass shootings ramping up pressure form advocates for change.
The DOJ’s proposal came after a cluster of mass shootings, including those in Atlanta, Boulder, Colo., Indianapolis and more.