President Biden has promised to defeat the National Rifle Association and wage war on ghost guns in his first hundred days. He appears to be making good on both, as the Justice Department on Friday released a proposed rule that changes the definition of a firearm to require 80% lower kits to include serial numbers, according to AP News.
The proposed rule change comes as President Biden has declared war on "ghost guns." These weapons have unserialized lower receivers (the regulated part of a gun) that can be easily bought in a kit form online or at a gun store (without a background check), and in a few hours, with some drilling and additional fabrication, can be transformed into a fully functional weapon after the upper receiver (unregulated part of the gun) is attached.
The federal government is terrified as the popularity of ghost guns has increased over the years. Anyone can buy 80% lower kits online and watch a few YouTube videos, and have a working lower receiver after trigger parts are installed, totally untraceable to the government. These weapons have become popular with gangs and other criminals and have been turning up in more violent crimes across the country.
Between 2016 to 2020, the DoJ estimates about 23,000 ghost guns were seized by law enforcement agencies across the country, and some were identified to be connected with homicides or attempted homicides.
A senior Justice Department official told AP the proposed rule sets forth several factors in determining whether the unfinished lower receiver could be easily convertible into a working firearm. The official said if the lower receiver meets that criteria, manufacturers will be required to include a serial number. The rule would also require serial numbers attached to un-serialized weapons traded in or turned into federal firearms dealers.
"Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "This proposed rule would help keep guns out of the wrong hands and make it easier for law enforcement to trace guns used to commit violent crimes, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans."
There was no mention of 3D-printed ghost guns that can be entirely manufactured at home. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently reinstated a Trump administration order that authorized removing ghost guns from the State Department's Munitions List. This allowed untraceable 3D-printed gun blueprints to be shared online.
Regulating 80% lower kits might be an easy task for the Biden administration. They will have a near-impossible time regulating 3D-printed guns that can be entirely printed at home.