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ACP Backs Biden's Efforts to Get Ghost Guns Off the Street

Advocate Masthead

U.S. Department of Justice issued a final rule in early April to ban manufacturing of ghost guns

May 6, 2022 (ACP) — The American College of Physicians supports the Biden administration's efforts to remove ghost guns from the streets once and for all.

Ghost guns are firearms packaged in parts from kits or made with 3D printers that can be bought online and assembled without a trace.

“Ghost guns are so dangerous because they can be acquired without a background check and lack serial numbers so cannot be traced by law enforcement, [and] they are also often undetectable by metal detectors,” said Renee Butkus, ACP director of health policy. “They're increasingly becoming the weapon of choice for those legally barred from buying or possessing guns in the United States, and what is especially concerning is that these guns have been showing up in school shootings and are being used by children.”

In 2021, approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after being seized in criminal investigations. This is a tenfold increase from 2016, according to the Biden administration.

In early April, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a final rule to rein in the creation of ghost guns. The Biden administration now bans manufacturing of the most accessible ghost guns, including unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that can be purchased online or at a store without a background check and assembled in as little as 30 minutes. The new rule also clarifies that these kits are “firearms” under the Gun Control Act and that commercial manufacturers of these kits must get licensed and include serial numbers on the kit's frame or receiver. In addition, commercial sellers must become licensed and run background checks before making a sale, as they must do with other firearms.

The Justice Department will also require federally licensed dealers and gunsmiths who take any unserialized firearm into inventory to put a serial number on the weapon before selling, regardless of how the gun was made.

The final rule also states that firearms with split receivers are subject to federal regulations requiring serial numbers and background checks when purchased from licensed dealers, manufacturers, or importers. These were not as popular when the regulations were first issued and were not included under the law as a result.

Federally licensed firearms dealers must now keep records until they shut down their business, and then the dealers must transfer the records to the ATF. Before the new rule, dealers could destroy most records after 20 years, making guns harder to trace.

“The new regulations are a critical step to stopping the flow of untraceable weapons to individuals legally prohibited from possessing firearms,” Butkus said.

The regulations are in line with the 2018 ACP policy paper on reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths in the United States, and this issue remains a crucial advocacy priority.

“The rate of injuries and deaths related to firearms and the growing incidence of mass shootings brings to light, once again, the glaring lack of firearm policy in the United States,” Butkus explained. “Though this has been disheartening, ACP will continue to press for the adoption of policies to reduce the number of deaths and injuries related to firearms.”

Much legislative activity and action takes place at the state level. To that end, ACP has prepared a chapter action tool kit that members can use to help advance legislation in their states to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths.

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Back to the May 6, 2022 issue of ACP Advocate