New federal rule requires serial numbers, background checks for ‘ghost gun’ kits

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced a new federal rule meant to crack down on the use of what’s been dubbed as ghost guns – untraceable homemade firearms that do not have serial numbers.

The new rule requires the kits to make homemade guns to be treated like other guns made and sold in the U.S.

The kits will need to have serial numbers and the person buying one would need to pass a background check.

The rule goes into effect in four months, according to the Department of Justice.

“This rule clarifies that these kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale – just like they have to do with other commercially-made firearms,” said the White House in a statement.

The new rule also requires gun dealers to give serial numbers to any firearms in their inventory that do not currently have serial numbers, regardless of how the firearm was made.

“The final rule will also help turn some ghost guns already in circulation into serialized firearms,” said the White House. “Through this rule, the Justice Department is requiring federally licensed dealers and gunsmiths taking any unserialized firearm into inventory to serialize that weapon. For example, if an individual builds a firearm at home and then sells it to a pawn broker or another federally licensed dealer, that dealer must put a serial number on the weapon before selling it to a customer.”

The White House said last year alone, there were around 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in criminal investigations, though law enforcement agencies have testified before Congress about the difficulty in tracking these weapons and warned that data is limited.

Republicans in Congress have slammed President Biden’s crackdown on ghost guns and called it a distraction from the uptick in violence across the country.

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

In response to the Biden administration’s new rule Monday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) said:

“An administration that’s truly sincere and resolute about curbing violent crime rates would do one thing: take violent criminals off the streets immediately,” said Andrew Arulanandam, Managing Director of Public Affairs for the NRA. “Yet, the Biden administration allows these criminals who kill and maim with callous and reckless abandon, again and again, to roam the streets of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and other cities large and small across our country without fear of prosecution and punishment. Americans know the lenient bail system and the revolving door justice system supported and perpetrated by the Biden administration and other leaders who support soft-on-criminal policies are the problem. However, today, the president unveils yet another hollow plan that will not stop this violence. His gun control actions will undoubtedly hearten his wealthy gun control supporters. But, this action sends the wrong message to violent criminals, because this “ban” will not affect them. These violent crime sprees will continue unabated until they are arrested, prosecuted and punished.”