May 14, 2020

Senators Introduce Bill to Ban Untraceable ‘Ghost’ Guns

Bill would require sellers of online gun-making kits to comply with federal firearm safety regulations

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris (both D-Calif.) joined with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and 12 senators today to introduce the Untraceable Firearms Act, a bill to ban “ghost” guns, untraceable guns built from kits or using 3-D printers.

Reports indicate that the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have spurred an increase in demand for and sale of these untraceable weapons.

“Untraceable guns built from kits or using 3-D printers have no place on our streets,” said Senator Feinstein. “I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce a bill to close the loophole that permits these so-called ‘ghost guns’ to be made. We need to stop the proliferation of these deadly, unregulated weapons in order to save lives.”

“So-called ghost guns exist to evade detection and background checks,” said Senator Harris. “They should not be on the market – this is common sense. This legislation would help keep our communities safe and ensure that gun sellers are licensed and are performing background checks as required by law.”

“This pandemic is spurring a deeply disturbing demand in untraceable weapons,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Congress must act urgently to stop these homemade ‘ghost guns’ before they spur the next horrifying wave of gun violence. Currently, anyone with access to the internet can order a gun-making kit or use 3D-printing technology to build their own assault weapon, pistol, or shotgun, circumventing identification, licensing, and background check requirements. These untraceable homemade guns are just as deadly as guns already subject to these same requirements. My legislation would close loopholes and prevent this public safety emergency in the making.”

The Untraceable Firearms Act would include ghost guns and their core building blocks – unfinished frames and receivers – and the gun-making kits used to build them in the definition of “firearm” under federal law. In doing so, online gun kit manufacturers and distributors would be required to comply with the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms. This includes a requirement that sellers have a manufacturer’s license and put a serial number on the frame or receiver included in each kit, and that purchasers undergo a background check. 

The bill also incorporates the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which would prohibit firearms that can be easily modified to be pass through metal detectors undetected.

 In addition to Senators Feinstein, Harris and Blumenthal, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

This legislation is endorsed by leading gun violence prevention groups Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords and Newtown Action Alliance.

 “Thanks to pandemic panic-buying, ghost gun kits are flying off the shelves — and without action from Congress or the ATF, they can be delivered right to the front door of a convicted domestic abuser, gun trafficker, or white supremacist without a background check,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud Senator Blumenthal for stepping up and introducing this bill that would regulate these untraceable guns before they cause any more deaths.”

“Ghost guns are an existential threat to public safety,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords. “These do-it-yourself guns are untraceable, making it easier for people who should not own a firearm to obtain one and more difficult for law enforcement officials to do their jobs. Senator Blumenthal’s Untraceable Firearms Act will reverse this, ensuring that ghost guns are regulated in the same way as traditionally manufactured guns. His common sense legislation will make communities across America safer and is an example of the leadership needed to end gun violence. Hopefully other members of Congress will show the same courage as Senator Blumenthal to pass this important legislation.”

“Untraceable ghost guns are a clear and present danger to all Americans since they are becoming the weapons of choice for criminals and now mass shooters,” said Po Murray, chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance and Newtown Action Alliance Foundation. “All firearms including assault weapons whether made in a factory or in your basement should have serial numbers to enable law enforcement to their job effectively. Ghost guns circumvent the federal and state gun laws therefore any individual can acquire the DIY kits without background checks. Ghost guns kits are selling out due to COVID19 panic buying therefore Congress must act now to pass Senator Blumenthal’s federal bill to protect all Americans and prevent tragedies.”

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