Biden announces new ‘ghost gun’ rule aimed at preventing gun crimes

Washington – President Biden and the Justice Department on Monday announced new measures aimed at cracking down on gun crimes, including a rule targeting the manufacture and sale of so-called “ghost guns,” or guns. homemade firearms that lack serial numbers and are difficult to trace. The new rule will require ghost guns, which can be made with 3D printers or sold as assembly kits, to be treated like other firearms made and sold in the United States.

“This is going to help save lives, reduce crime and get more criminals off the streets,” Biden said in a White House speech. “If you commit a crime with a ghost weapon, expect federal prosecution.”

The president also called on Congress to do more to address gun violence, including passing universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. “I know it’s controversial but I did it once,” he said. Democratic efforts in Congress to enact tougher gun laws have dragged on for years.

Under the rule issued by the Department of Justice, commercial manufacturers of ghost gun assembly kits will now be required to include serial numbers. Sellers will also need to be federally licensed, conduct background checks before selling a homemade gun kit, and keep records of purchases for as long as they are in business. The current rule allows sellers to purge registrations after 20 years.

Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, noted that phantom weapons pose “an especially serious threat to the safety of our communities” because of their ease of obtaining and difficulty of tracing.

“We call them ghost guns because they can’t be found, but make no mistake, they’re real,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “They can shoot to kill, and they do.”

Mr Biden picked up a prop gun kit next to his desk, noting how easy they are to assemble.

“It’s the weapon,” he said. “It’s not hard to put together… It doesn’t take very long. Anyone can order it.”

President Biden holds a gun construction kit as he speaks about gun crime measures from the White House Rose Garden on April 11, 2022.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The president also introduced Steve Dettelbach as his new candidate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). A former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Dettelbach would be the ATF’s first permanent director since 2015 if confirmed by the Senate. The White House was forced to draw his first choice for the role in September because of concerns from lawmakers.

“Law enforcement is very hard work, and no person or agency is perfect. But the President is right: the men and women of the ATF and the public they protect deserve better support. from us,” Dettelbach said in brief remarks. “I’ve seen firsthand the work so many people at the ATF do to protect us from violence. They’re dedicated, they’re professional, and they’re effective.”

In 2018, Dettelbach lost his run for Ohio attorney general. During the campaign, he advocated for universal background checks on those who want to buy guns, restoring the ban on assault weapons and restricting guns for people with serious problems. mental health, according to WOSU.

“[Dettelbach] should be a non-controversial candidate because he has a long history in law enforcement,” a senior administration official said Sunday.

Mr Biden initially tapped David Chipman to lead the agency but withdrew the nomination after several Republican lawmakers and Senator Angus King, an independent who caucus with Democrats, voiced their opposition to the choice. After his nomination was withdrawn, Chipman criticized lawmakers for their opposition, telling “CBS Evening News” anchor and editor Norah O’Donnell that the gun industry “profits from gun violence itself”.

During a briefing for reporters on the new ghost gun rule on Sunday, a senior administration official said the ATF was able to trace less than 1% of the roughly 45,000 ghost guns recovered during investigations. between January 2016 and December 2021. Nearly 700 of the incidents were homicides or attempted homicides, the official said.

A senior administration official said the rule “operates within the legal limits of the Constitution.” It comes a year after the Biden White House tasked the Justice Department with investigating such weapons after mass shootings in Rock and Atlanta in 2021.

“Ghost weapons look like a gun, they shoot like a gun and kill like a gun, but so far they haven’t been regulated as a gun,” said John Feinblatt , president of Everytown for Gun Safety. Feinblatt expressed confidence in Biden’s new ATF nominee “to lead a top-down overhaul of the agency.”

Ghost guns have recently been cited by police chiefs and metropolitan politicians as one of the causes of rising crime rates across the country.

“In New York in 2019, we recovered 47 ghost guns. In 2020, we recovered 150 ghost guns. In 2021, that number increased to 375. And so far in 2022, we have 85 compared to 20 in the last year,” NYPD Intelligence Chief Tom Galati said last month. “That’s a 325% increase in ghost gun seizures since last year.”

But phantom guns are only used in a fraction of crimes committed with firearms. About 12% of firearms seized by the NYPD so far this year have been phantom guns, according to the New York Post, although data is limited due to the difficulty in tracing them.

In a CBS News Poll published on Sunday, Americans ranked crime the third highest priority – after the economy and inflation – that they believe Mr. Biden and his administration should tackle.

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