Ghost Guns and Restrictions

Ghost Guns and Restrictions

Nitya Wanchoo

President Biden moves to ban ghost guns – guns that do not have serial numbers that are traceable – despite opposition from the Republican Party, who claim that he’s taking away their Second Amendment Right. 

Traditional firearms are put together and bought from licensed gun dealers. They can be tracked by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Biden has been working closely with Congress to try and pass legislation to tighten background checks and ban higher-level assault weapons. Biden said, “The job of any president is to protect the American people, whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe from gun violence” which seems to sum up his feelings about ghost guns quite well. 

Ghost guns are, put simply, guns that are untrackable. This is because they do not have serial numbers because they are manufactured in parts. They are sold online in kits and assembled by people at home. Because they aren’t treated as official firearms, they are unknown to the government. Biden commented on this by saying “I want to see these treated as firearms under the Gun Control Act”. He wants there to be as much security regarding these kits as licensed guns because they are essentially the same thing. 

The kits come about 80% assembled, and the owner puts together the remaining parts by watching one of the many YouTube tutorials. Biden has also tried to reduce access to stabilizing braces which can turn a simple pistol into a more lethal rifle without going through the legal checks. The kits and gun parts are sold without background checks and cost as little as $345, according to Everytown for Gun Safety which is a gun violence prevention organization, for an AR-15. Moreover, they take as little as an hour or so to be put together. Usually, the only tool needed is a drill and the necessary drill bits, which are often sold with the kits. This makes them relatively easy and inexpensive. 

Ghost guns have been around since the 1990s, although they’ve only recently become a growing problem. They began to take off in 2013 when a ghost gun was used at a Santa Monica College shooting, which killed six people. Since then, their popularity has only increased, especially in states where gun laws are more strict. Nowadays, there is an unknown amount of ghost guns in circulation. In California, mass shootings have occurred in 2017 and 2019, with ghost guns. In both incidents, multiple people were shot dead. More recently, there have been shootings in Georgia, Colorado, and California. Carlos A. Canino, the special agent in charge of the A.T.F. Los Angeles field division said that “Forty-one percent, so almost half our cases we’re coming across, are these ‘ghost guns”. This reflects how big of an issue this is. 

In the White House, people are divided on what to do. Biden has been pressured by many Democrats and gun control activists to take more action, especially since it was a big part of his campaign for the presidency, but he hasn’t seriously acted on it in the early stages of his administration. He had remarked that “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment”. The House Democrats have even passed gun control legislation, but there isn’t enough support in the Senate to advance the bill. Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, went on to say that she supports his actions regarding the ghost guns, and urges further bills to be passed on strengthened background checks. In her statement, Pelosi spoke, “The gun violence crisis demands immediate, effective and strong action – which is why, as House Speaker, I strongly support the gun violence prevention actions taken today by President Biden. These steps will save lives: stopping the spread of so-called ‘ghost guns,’ helping ensure that dangerous people cannot access firearms, and leading an evidence-based, whole-of-government initiative to reduce community violence.”

There are still many potential steps to be taken regarding gun laws, but one last thing that Biden has done has been announced his support for programs aimed at reducing gun violence in more urban communities. It’s a work in progress, to say the least.