State Watch

18 attorneys general call on Garland to close ghost gun loophole

Eighteen state attorneys general are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to close the “ghost gun” loophole.

The group, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D), sent a letter to Garland on Monday asking for him to expedite rule making from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that would treat unfinished frames and receivers the same as fully-finished frames.

The letter says that the loophole, called the “80 percent loophole,” “allows criminals, domestic abusers, and other individuals who legally cannot possess firearms to evade common-sense gun laws.”

“Ghost guns” refer to kits that can easily be purchased be assembled into firearms. They can be sold without background checks, and are untraceable because they have no serial number. The ATF currently doesn’t regulate these kits as firearms

“Simply put, this loophole allows unserialized ghost guns to be bought and sold without oversight,” the attorney generals wrote. “This is not a theoretical problem: more and more, criminals are taking advantage of this loophole to obtain guns that are later used in crimes.”

The letter further states that the some states have already taken actin to close the loophole, but federal action is needed from nationwide solution. They point out that the change would not interfere with the rights of gun owners to purchase the kits on their own.

“To be clear, such a change would not in any way restrict the rights of lawful gun owners to purchase 80% receivers and assemble firearms on their own,” the letter says. “It would simply require that these products have serial numbers and that purchasers undergo simple background checks—just like they currently do for other firearm purchases.”

The letter was also signed by the attorneys general of Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia.

Four Democratic senators sent a letter to President Biden to end the loophole earlier this month calling on him to direct the ATF to regulate ghost guns like regular firearms.

Tags Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives ghost guns Gun control gun safety Joe Biden Josh Shapiro Merrick Garland

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