Democrats have long tried to crack down on so-called “ghost guns,” one of their many chimerical scapegoats for gun violence. This time, however, they might have a chance of succeeding.
On Tuesday, Democrat Rep. David N. Cicilline of Rhode Island announced he was introducing the Untraceable Firearms Act of 2021, a bill that would aim to severely regulate 3-D printed guns or gun kits that can be assembled at home.
“Gun violence is a public health epidemic in our country. In recent years, the increased presence of ghost guns in our communities has made this problem even worse. These untraceable weapons make it harder for law enforcement to find and prosecute violent criminals,” Cicilline said in a news release.
“This legislation will close the ghost gun loophole and make these weapons easier to trace. It’s just commonsense.”
“The Untraceable Firearms Act closes the ghost gun loophole by amending the existing definition of ‘firearm’ under federal law to include gun kits and partial receivers and by changing the definition of ‘manufacturing firearms’ to include assembling firearms using 3D printing technology. By modifying these definitions, the Untraceable Firearms Act ensures that ghost guns, including firearms manufactured or completed using 3D printing, are subject to existing federal firearm regulation,” the news release continued.
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Yes, there has been an “increased presence of ghost guns in our communities” these past few years, although the language here is somewhat misleading. As Joe Walsh noted in an article at Forbes on May 7, the increase in “ghost guns” found at crime scenes by police in 2020 was 9,000, compared to 2,000 in 2016.
This is the latest gun-related moral panic on the left, having replaced bump stocks as the shiny object of the season. According to The Washington Post, President Joe Biden previewed a crackdown on “ghost guns” in April when he issued a series of mostly toothless executive orders on gun control. At the time, the National Rifle Association warned such legislation “would do nothing to address violent crime while further burdening law-abiding gun owners and the lawful firearm industry with overbroad regulations.”
The rule would further give “an incredible amount of power” to the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the NRA said.
It’s also not the first time the left has pushed to end the scourge of so-called “ghost guns.” In 2020, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced similar legislation, noting in a news release that ghost gun kits would “allow anyone, including convicted felons, domestic abusers, and terrorists, among other ‘prohibited persons’ to get their hands on a firearm — legally — even if it means they have to build it themselves.”
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“The public health and economic challenges that we face due to COVID-19 are great, and as we continue to make massive investments to meet this historic crisis, we must also respond to the related and mounting threat to public safety posed by rising sales of ghost guns,” the release said.
Beyond its introduction, however, no actions were taken on the bill, according to Congress.gov. It’s almost as if Blumenthal wanted a news conference or two where he could pontificate about the danger of ghost guns and then let the issue die, since the Democrats had neither the votes, nor the momentum to do anything substantive about it.
However, 2021 is technically different. Joe Biden is the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania and he desperately wants a win on gun control — no matter how efficacious the policy might be. The Democrats have a slim majority in the House and Cicilline certainly has all the requisite gun control groups lined up in support of his bill.
“Untraceable and unregulated firearms, sometimes called ‘ghost guns,’ are an existential threat to public safety,” Kris Brown, president of gun control group Brady, said in Cicilline’s news release.
“These weapons are easily accessible to any person regardless of age or criminal background, requiring no background check and no questions asked. They are just as easily assembled, and sometimes come in kits with all the necessary parts and even the tools to complete them, undermining all existing gun laws. The Untraceable Firearms Act is a common-sense solution to this pressing problem and Brady thanks Rep. Cicilline and Senator Blumenthal for introducing this important bill.”
“Ghost guns are the fastest growing gun safety threat in the country, for obvious reasons — anyone with a credit card and internet connection can easily score an untraceable gun with no background check, no serial number, and no questions asked,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “To stop the proliferation of ghost guns, we need to make sure they are subject to the same lifesaving rules as other guns, and we applaud Rep. Cicilline for introducing this legislation to do exactly that.”
The question, as always, is the Senate. Both Blumenthal and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation of their own which mirrored Cicillline’s, but unless the Democrats plan to use the nuclear option and bypass the filibuster, it’s unlikely the bill will go anywhere. This brings up the question, of course, of when the Democrats finally decide the 60-vote hurdle the filibuster entails involves too much compromise. (Which, in 2021, seems to be any compromise.)
We’ve already seen the feint proposed by some that the Democrats’ election federalization legislation, H.R. 1, shouldn’t be subject to the filibuster because it’s “civil rights” legislation. It’s not a particularly long slippery slope to justifying the banning of ghost guns because issues of gun control represent special circumstances, as well. In other words, this isn’t just talk anymore.
In the meantime, banning so-called “ghost guns” remains as problematic as before. It gives overbroad power to the ATF, an agency which doesn’t need it — particularly when the White House and both chambers of Congress are controlled by a party in a state of mutual hostilities against the Second Amendment and its proponents. This is a moral panic meant to precede a power grab. The difference this time is that the power the Democrats wish to grab is well within their reach.
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