For some time now, alarmist headlines have warned about “ghost guns,” the name that politicians and the media have given to homemade firearms. Gun control activists, mainstream media pundits, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) bureaucrats have admonished the public about the supposedly pressing issue.
Pressure has mounted on President Joe Biden to “do something” about this growing “problem.” Now we know what that “something” will be. Today, the White House announced its plans to issue new rules on homemade firearms.
Here’s an excerpt from its Monday morning announcement:
“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.”
Additionally, firearm dealers which take unserialized firearms into their inventory will also be required to add a serial number.
The White House rules also include some regulatory changes over what constitutes a firearm receiver:
“First, the final rule ensures that firearms with split receivers are subject to regulations requiring serial numbers and background checks when purchased from a licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer. Decades ago, ATF issued a regulation defining the ‘frame or receiver’ of a firearm as the part that is regulated by the Gun Control Act – meaning that is the part that triggers federal serialization, background check, and other requirements. At that time, many firearms in the United States were single-framed firearms, like revolvers, that house key components in a single structure. However, we have seen the increasing popularity of firearms using split or multi-part receivers that house key components in multiple structures.
Some courts have recently interpreted decades-old regulatory text in a way that, if broadly applied, could mean that as many as 90 percent of firearms in the United States today would not have a frame or receiver subject to federal regulation.
The final rule updates the regulatory definitions of ‘frame’ and ‘receiver’ to ensure that firearms using split or multi-part receivers continue to be covered by our common-sense gun laws.”
This part of the new regulations reaches far beyond homemade handguns.
Your standard semi-automatic handgun has a receiver and a slide, which is the upper part of the firearm that slides back when it’s fired, thus ejecting the spent brass and loading another round into the chamber.
Split receiver regulations, however, are targeting another popular “ghost gun” type: homemade AR-15 style rifles.
With those homemade firearms, you have a lower receiver and an upper receiver. Both are useless without the other, of course, and the ATF has long considered the lower receiver to be the “gun” part of the firearms. What this rule seems to be doing is changing that definition so the upper receivers are also required to be serialized.
However, there are millions of these weapons already out in private hands with unserialized upper receivers. This will likely require gun stores to have to serialize their entire inventory, based on the previously mentioned rule.
What good will these new rules actually accomplish?
The “ghost gun” kit rule will likely just push dealers to offer the kits separate from the incomplete receiver. Instead of clicking to put one item in your cart, you’ll have to get two.
The split receiver rule, on the other hand, will create a mountain of headaches for dealers, but it seems unlikely it’ll do much else.
What the White House and gun control advocates miss is that despite the gloom and doom about unserialized firearms, they’ve only been used in 325 homicides since 2016. That’s just 0.36% percent of all homicides. That’s fewer than the average number of people who are accidentally killed with a firearm annually.
That’s right: Biden’s new “ghost guns” crackdown is responding to a statistically nearly-nonexistent threat and will be easily circumvented.
However, this isn’t surprising coming from the gun control crowd.
The White House, activists, the media, and others seem more interested in selling fear than facts, particularly when it comes to so-called “ghost guns.” Biden’s new regulations are just the latest example of this unfortunate pattern.