Nation’s Largest Gun Safety Group Renews Calls For Executive Action To Halt This Growing Threat Nationwide
NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety applauded 18 Attorneys General, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, after they sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on him to direct the Department of Justice to address the plague of ghost guns, specifically, “to expedite new rulemaking from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recognizing that the federal Gun Control Act requires unfinished frames and receivers to be treated the same as fully-finished frames and receivers so that we can put an end to the alarming rise of ghost guns in our communities.” From the letter:
“Collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement is critical to stopping the flow of illegal guns in our communities and across our state borders. The rise of untraceable ghost guns undermines that effort. By closing this loophole, ATF can take a tremendous step forward towards the goal we all share: keeping Americans safe from gun violence.”
“The urgent threat that ghost guns pose to our communities demands swift action,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “The attorneys general put it best – someone who can’t pass a background check shouldn’t be allowed to buy a product that lets them assemble an untraceable gun with minimal effort. The Biden-Harris administration has made clear it recognizes the ongoing danger that ghost guns pose, and with a new attorney general committed to protecting the public, it’s time to act.”
As cities have made clear in a lawsuit against ATF seeking regulation of ghost guns — in which Everytown Law is lead counsel — untraceable guns are being recovered in cities across the country in exponentially increasing numbers.
Right now, the Biden-Harris administration can take action on the rising threat of ghost guns and support local officials like these attorneys general and keep these untraceable guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Unfinished frames and receivers are the core building blocks for untraceable ghost guns, but ATF has failed to regulate unfinished frames and receivers that are easily converted into operational firearms, so the building blocks can be acquired without a background check and the ghost guns created with these building blocks do not have serial numbers and cannot be traced. With executive action, the administration can shut down the no-questions-asked marketplace for ghost gun parts and kits by directing ATF to ensure our gun laws cover all firearms, including the core parts and kits used to build untraceable ghost guns. Companies engaged in the business of selling these parts and kits would need to get a federal license, put serial numbers on the products, and conduct background checks on buyers – the same process as for those who are engaged in the business of selling any other firearm.
Today’s announcement comes amidst a swell of increasing action that local officials are taking against ghost guns. Last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a new agreement to stop the sale of unfinished frames and receivers at gun shows operated by the state’s largest gun show promoter. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced a settlement with a California-based ghost gun distributor that will bar the company from advertising or selling untraceable ghost guns in New Jersey. Last summer, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that 17 websites agreed to stop selling unfinished receivers that can be made into illegal assault weapons into New York state. Additionally, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine sued a leading ghost gun manufacturer for advertising and selling illegal guns to District consumers. Last fall, then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the Trump administration in an effort to compel ATF to properly regulate ghost guns. And last month, Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer and Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, announced a lawsuit against the Nevada-based Polymer80 – exactly the make of ghost guns confiscated in Philadelphia on March 8. In line with a nationwide increase, in recent years, ghost guns have represented over 40% of firearms recovered in Los Angeles area crime scene investigations.
The surge in untraceable ghost guns is a problem that federal regulators can solve, but because they haven’t yet, cities and states are left to deal with the consequences. The current lack of regulation and enforcement enables gun traffickers and people who are prohibited from owning firearms, like minors, convicted domestic abusers and those with violent criminal histories, to acquire all the parts necessary to build an untraceable firearm with no background check.