(The Hill) – President Biden on Monday announced a ban on unlicensed kits to manufacture so-called ghost guns at home as part of his efforts to crack down on the proliferation of untraceable firearms.
The new rule includes a ban on “buy build shoot” kits that people can purchase online or at a store without a background check. The kit can assemble a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes, according to senior administration officials.
The new rule clarifies that such kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act and, as a result, commercial manufacturers of them must be licensed, include serial numbers, and conduct a background check prior to a sale.
Biden touted these new actions to fight gun crime on Monday, alongside Vice President Harris and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. Gun violence survivors and families of victims joined the event in the Rose Garden.
“If you buy a couch you have to assemble, it’s still a couch. If you order a package like this one over here that includes the parts you need, the directions of assembling a functioning firearm, you bought a gun. Take a look,” Biden said, walking over to a ghost gun kit on a table.
“Anyone can order it in the mail, anyone,” he added. “Folks, a felon, a terrorist, a domestic abuser, can go from a gun kit to a gun in as little as 30 minutes.”
Biden pushed back on the idea that the rule is extreme.
“Is it extreme to protect police officers? Extreme to protect our children? Extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t even pass a background check? The idea that someone on a terrorist list could purchase one of these guns,” he said “It isn’t extreme, it’s just basic, common sense.”
Biden also repeated his stance against defunding the police, distancing himself from the popular progressive movement.
“I’ve said it many times. The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police and give them the tools and training, the support they need to be better partners and protectors of our communities in need,” he said.
In 2021, there were about 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations, a tenfold increase from 2016, according to officials.
The rule applies to all ghost guns, regardless of how they were made, which can include 3D printing as well as kits. The Justice Department will require federally licensed dealers to take any unserialized firearm into inventory to serialize them.
“These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said on Monday. “We’re going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice and when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time.”
The rule builds on executive orders Biden issued in June aiming to reduce the proliferation of untraceable ghost guns, as well as regulating stabilizing braces on firearms and helping states enact red flag legislation.
The rule announced on Monday will also update the regulatory definitions of “frame” and “receiver” to ensure that firearms with split receivers are subject to regulations requiring serial numbers and background checks when purchased.
And it requires federally licensed firearms dealers to retain records until they shut down their business or licensed activity, responding to ATF data that over 1,300 firearms a year are untraceable because dealers destroyed records that were over 20 years old.
Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to ban the sale and possession of unserialized firearms, like ghost guns.
He also called on Congress to pass bills to require background checks for all gun sales, ensure that no terrorist can buy a weapon, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and repeal gun manufacturers’ protection from liability.