Senate panel weighs proposed regulations for ‘ghost guns’

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are looking into cracking down on so-called ghost guns, which are firearms made with at-home kits.

It comes after the Biden administration announced restrictions on these guns last week.

Ghost guns are assembled at home or by private individuals instead of a manufacturer, so they do not have serial numbers.

Gun safety advocates and the Biden administration argue these weapons are untraceable and could be sold to anyone because the kits do not require background checks.

Lawmakers are divided along party lines when it comes to rules for these guns.

“Since these kits are unregulated, anyone can purchase them,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) “Minors. Convicted felons. Anti-government extremists. Violent white supremacists. Foreign terrorists.”

“It’s a name that is intended to scare people,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Homemade firearms aren’t any more dangerous than any other firearms.”

Last week, the Department of Justice announced a proposed rule that would require sellers to run background checks for people buying the kits and it would require manufacturers to include a serial number on the gun’s frame or receiver.

The proposed rule needs to go through a public comment period before it’s finalized.

Gun safety advocates are urging Congress to take more permanent legislative action so that it’s not reversed under a new administration.

“They’re being used to kill people on the streets of our communities and this body has the power to do something about it,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), law enforcement recovered nearly 24,000 ghost guns from crime scenes from 2016 to the end of 2020 and 325 of them were suspected to be connected to homicides or attempted homicides.

“Last March, a former Temple University football player was killed on the streets of Chinatown in Philadelphia with a ghost gun, fired by someone, and this is important, who would not have passed a background check but still got their hands on one of these,” said Shapiro.

Gun rights advocates cautioned against legislative changes which they said would punish legal gun owners.

Instead, they urged lawmakers to focus on cracking down on violent criminals and illegal gun use.

“Criminalizing those who would otherwise be considered innocent but also opening the door for loopholes and litigation and worst of all, continued violence,” said Ashley Hlebinsky from the Gun Code LLC.