Today will be a big day for the Biden administration as the long-awaited rule on "ghost guns" will be formally revealed by the president. There's also word a new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will be announced.
USA Today reports President Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will unveil new rules targeting do-it-yourself kits, otherwise known as 80% lowers. The lower receivers come unserialized and take a few hours of drilling and assembling an upper receiver to produce a fully functional firearm. The weapons contain no serial number, making it challenging for the government to track and trace.
USA Today said the announcement would be made "during a Rose Garden ceremony," suggesting Biden's anti-gun coalition groups would be in attendance.
Ahead of Biden's announcement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) published a press release with new details of how it "will submit to the Federal Register the "Frame or Receiver" Final Rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm."
The DoJ said once the new rule is implemented, "parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms." This means that 80% lower kits and other parts kits will require background checks.
"One year ago, the Department committed to address the proliferation of ghost guns used in violent crimes," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
"This rule will make it harder for criminals and other prohibited persons to obtain untraceable guns, will help ensure that law enforcement officers can retrieve the information they need to solve crimes, and will help reduce the number of untraceable firearms flooding our communities.
"I commend all our colleagues at the ATF who have worked tirelessly over the past 12 months to get this important rule finalized, and to do it in a way that respects the rights of law-abiding Americans," Garland said.
The new rule goes into effect 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. In a short bullet point list, the DoJ explains how their new rule will stop the proliferation of ghost guns:
*To help keep guns from being sold to convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers, the rule makes clear that retailers must run background checks before selling kits that contain the parts necessary for someone to readily make a gun.
*To help law enforcement trace guns used in a crime, the rule modernizes the definition of frame or receiver, clarifying what must be marked with a serial number – including in easy to-build firearm kits.
*To help reduce the number of unmarked and hard-to-trace "ghost guns," the rule establishes requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers and gunsmiths to have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory
*To better support tracing efforts, the rule requires federal firearms licensees, including gun retailers, to retain records for the length of time they are licensed, thereby expanding records retention beyond the prior requirement of 20 years. Over the past decade, ATF has been unable to trace thousands of firearms – many reportedly used in homicides or other violent crimes – because the records had already been destroyed. These records will continue to belong to, and be maintained by, federal firearms licensees while they are in business.
Axios reports Steve Dettelbach, a former federal attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, will be announced by Biden as his nominee to head the ATF. We noted this would happen last week.
The new ghost gun rule is one of the most significant executive actions pushed forward by the Biden administration to tackle gun violence.