Is Biden right to call for regulation of ‘ghost guns’?
- Ghost guns are privately made guns without serial numbers. Certain parts, like 80-percent receivers, can be legally bought without numbers. The federal government currently does not consider guns with this kind of adaptation to be a firearm.
- On April 11, 2022, the Department of Justice announced a new rule “Frame of Receiver” to change the definition of a firearm which will include ghost guns. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland asserted, “This rule will make it harder for criminals and other prohibited persons to obtain untraceable guns [and] help reduce the number of untraceable firearms flooding our communities.”
- During a speech in the White House Rose Garden, President Biden noted “these guns are weapons of choice for many criminals [...] we’re going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice.”
- An April 2022 Morning Consult poll found that 63% of voters approve of Biden’s actions against ghost guns with 79% support from Democrats and 46% support from Republicans.
- Forty-two percent of American adults owned at least one gun in 2021, which has remained steady since 1972 according to Statista.
President Biden's call for regulation of so-called 'ghost guns' is common sense and frankly overdue. Just because a gun is manufactured by an end user as opposed to a traditional manufacturing facility should have no bearing on regulation since it is still a deadly weapon that can be used in exactly the same ways as traditionally manufactured guns. In fact, 'ghost guns' have become a favorite tool for criminals as they currently have little to no regulation.
Calling for these guns to have tracing features such as serial numbers only makes sense. Criminals should not be given an advantage simply because they are willing to do the assembly themselves. Being able to track these weapons and control access through measures such as background checks will become even more important as 3D printing and advanced materials make building weapons that can more easily pass through security screenings possible. Nations worldwide have put in place sensible gun restrictions, which has resulted in far lower rates of gun crime. It makes sense for the United States to follow their lead.
While no-compromise gun advocates will decry this needed and sensible suggestion as trampling on second amendment rights, the truth is that these advanced weapons, bought and sold via the Internet, are so far outside of what the framers of our constitution could have imagined that they must be regulated. Adding a tiny bit of regulation will still allow these weapons to contribute to the enormous cache of weapons on American streets, contributing to the epidemic of gun violence. But it also means law enforcement will have a prayer at apprehending gun criminals who use these weapons.
While President Biden has framed his new rules on 'ghost guns' as a way to reign in gun crimes, in reality, this will not help reduce the violent crime numbers at all. Ghost guns make up a very small percentage of the total number of guns used in the US. Depending on the city, ghost guns only account for 3.5% to 20% of the total number of guns seized nationwide. Regular handheld guns commit the majority of violent crimes.
Biden has also not considered how ghost guns are very easy to make, even easier than buying a factory-manufactured gun. Ghost guns are created using a basic receiver that has not been fully finished. All an end user needs to do is buy a kit that contains the slide, barrel, and other components to complete the weapon. No criminal background checks are required to buy these kits to make them functional. The total cost to make a ghost gun is less than $500 and is untraceable. As with any hands-on projects, many people use gun kits to create their own ghost gun as a sort of DIY project. A person creating and owning their own gun doesn't automatically mean they will use the weapon to hurt others. It is often a hobby, and murder is still illegal with or without these gun restriction laws.
Additionally, close to 390 million regular guns are in circulation throughout America. And in 2020, there were nearly 45,000 gun-related deaths in the nation, the majority of which were committed by regular guns. If Biden is serious about crime control, he need not worry about restricting gun rights and focus on incarcerating criminals after a first offense to keep them from repeating crimes and attacking innocent, law-abiding citizens.