Senate GOP to force vote on nixing Biden’s ghost guns rule

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, April 7, 2022 to discuss why Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans will not vote for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Greg Nash
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, April 7, 2022 to discuss why Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans will not vote for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Senate Republicans said on Thursday they will force a vote to try to nix President Biden’s “ghost guns” rule, pushing a fight over gun laws onto the chamber’s agenda. 

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) said that he will introduce a resolution along with Sens. James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Mike Lee (Utah) to block the Justice Department regulation. 

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to try to overturn an administration rule with only a simple majority vote if it’s within a certain timeframe. Biden could still veto the resolution disapproving the rule, which would also need to pass the House. 

“This is another attempt by the Biden Administration to strip law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights instead of addressing the failed policies that have led to increased crime across the country. This action by the Biden Administration is not going to solve rising crime rates,” Lankford said in a statement. 

Cruz also accused Democrats of trying to “shift the blame and stoke anti-gun sentiment.”

“By introducing this resolution, we’re pushing back. … We want to stop the false narrative that links the rise in crime to ‘ghost guns,’ and firearms, and we want to protect law-abiding citizens who are exercising their Second Amendment rights,” he added. 

To get their resolution through the Senate, Republicans would need the support of their own GOP colleagues and to peel off at least one Democratic senator. 

In the evenly split Senate, a 50-50 tie vote is the same as a measure failing unless Vice President Harris steps in cast a vote for a piece of legislation. 

Biden announced this week that he would ban unlicensed kits to manufacture so-called ghost guns at home as part of his efforts to crack down on the proliferation of untraceable firearms. 

The new rule includes a ban on “buy build shoot” kits that people can purchase online or at a store without a background check. 

The rule clarifies that such kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act and, as a result, commercial manufacturers of them must be licensed, the products must include serial numbers and sellers must conduct a background check prior to a sale.

In 2021, there were about 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations, a tenfold increase from 2016, according to administration officials.

Biden also pre-butted GOP criticism when he announced the rule, saying that it “isn’t extreme. It’s just basic, common sense.” 

“Is it extreme to protect police officers? Extreme to protect our children? Extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t even pass a background check? The idea that someone on a terrorist list could purchase one of these guns,” he asked.

Republicans are also bristling over language in the rule that would require federally licensed firearms dealers to retain records until they shut down their business or licensed activity, responding to ATF data that over 1,300 firearms a year are untraceable because dealers destroyed records that were over 20 years old. 

Cruz, in his statement, accused the administration of trying to “create a permanent national gun registry.” Federal law already prohibits a national gun registry. 

The Justice Department, in announcing that it had formally submitted the rule to the Federal Register, said the licensees will continue to maintain the records and that the shift in the length of time from the current requirement of 20 years will “better support tracing efforts.” 

“Over the past decade, ATF has been unable to trace thousands of firearms – many reportedly used in homicides or other violent crimes – because the records had already been destroyed. These records will continue to belong to, and be maintained by, federal firearms licensees while they are in business,” DOJ said in its statement. 

Tags ghost guns James Lankford Joe Biden Kamala Harris Mike Braun Mike Lee Second Amendment Ted Cruz

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