Biden admin, DOJ to announce final rule on ‘ghost guns’

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice are set to announce a final rule on “ghost guns” on Monday in the Rose Garden.

A “ghost gun” is a firearm that comes packaged in parts, can be bought online and assembled without much of a trace.

The new rule essentially expands the definition of a “firearm,” as established by the Gun Control Act, to cover “buy build shoot” kits that people can buy online or from a firearm dealer and assemble themselves. It will make these kits subject to the same federal laws that currently apply to other firearms.

“At its core, this rule clarifies that anyone who wants to purchase a weapon parts kit that can be readily be converted to a fully assembled firearm must go through the same process they would have to go through to purchase a commercially made firearm in short weapon parts kits that may be readily convertible into working fully assembled firearms must be treated under federal law,” a senior administration official told ABC News.

Commercial manufacturers of the kits will have to be licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receivers. In addition, commercial sellers will have to be federally licensed and run background checks before selling a kit.

The final rule also tackles ghost guns that have already been made and are in circulation. The DOJ will require federally licensed dealers that take in any un-serialized firearms to serialize it before selling the weapon. If a licensed dealer acquires a ghost gun, the rule will require them to serialize it before re-selling it.

“This requirement will apply regardless of how the firearm was made, meaning it includes ghost guns made from individual parts, kits, or by 3D-printers,” a fact sheet of the new rule shared with ABC News.

“If you can put together an IKEA dresser, you can build a ghost gun,” Mia Tretta, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action and a gun violence survivor who was shot and wounded with a ghost gun in a school shooting in 2019, told ABC News. “Unfortunately, it is that easy to get a weapon that has not only changed my life but has done the same thing to thousands of others. Finalizing this rule is a critical step to making sure no one else has to go through what my family has had to go through.”

The final rule also updates the definition of a “frame” and “receiver” so that all using split or multi-part receivers are covered under existing gun laws and will be subject to serial numbers and background checks.

The rule also extends the 20-year record retention requirement that all Federal Firearm Licensees must adhere to. Under the rule, FFLs must retain records for as long as the dealer is licensed.

From January 2016 to December 2021, the ATF said it received “approximately 45,000 reports of suspected privately made firearms recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations — including 692 homicides or attempted homicides,” according to the DOJ.

New ATF director

Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco are also set to announce the nomination of Steve Dettelbach as the new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Steve is a highly respected former U.S. Attorney and career prosecutor,” a senior administration official said. “He 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.”

The official did not specify whether the interim ATF director, Marvin Richardson, will remain in place during the confirmation process.

“We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for doubling down on its commitment to gun safety by taking action to rein in ghost guns and nominating an ATF Director who will end its culture of complicity with the gun industry,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told ABC News. “Steve Dettelbach will be the strong leader the ATF needs to lead a top-to-bottom overhaul of the agency, and we urge the Senate to swiftly confirm him.”

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