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DOJ Reveals Proposed New Rules Targeting Ghost Guns

In a new proposed rule late on Friday, the Biden administration is seeking to impose new restrictions on home-built firearms and aiming to redefine the “receiver”.

The latter strives to deliver the first new rules in what is expected to be a barrage of anti-gun regulations aimed at restricting the firearms industry and law-abiding gun owners.

A press release by the Department of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland spins the new proposal as an attempt to “update the definitions of ‘firearm’ and related parts for the first time since 1968.”

Attorney General Garland neglected to mention that the definitions that will be changed were part of the Gun Control Act of 1968; legislation passed by Congress – not imposed by executive action.

The new rules would require that manufacturers include a serial number on the firearm “frame or receiver” in easy-to-build firearm kits.

Moreover, it aims to cut the number of “ghost guns on streets” while setting out requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers to have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.

Even unfinished frames and receivers need to be serialized if they are sold as part of a kit,, though the Department of Justice (DOJ) has kept silent on whether or not the unfinished gun parts must be serialized if they are sold by themselves.

“These courts’ interpretation of ATF’s regulations, if broadly followed, could mean that as many as 90 percent of all firearms now in the United States would not have an identifiable frame or receiver,” the document said. “Those firearms would include numerous widely available models, such as Glock-type and Sig Sauer P32013 pistols, that do not utilize a hammer – a named component – in the firing sequence.”

The ATF spoke on the necessity to revise the definition of a receiver in ensuring it won’t “be misinterpreted by the courts, the firearms industry, or the public at large to mean that most firearms in circulation have no part identifiable as a frame or receiver.”

The proposed receiver definition calls on the need for one fire control component – such as a trigger mechanism, cylinder, or firing pin – instead of requiring multiple parts as the current definition does.

The ATF announced plans to keep in place the determinations on which specific parts would qualify as receivers for guns currently on the market and create a voluntary process for gun makers to submit new designs for determinations.

On the other hand, courts are not lending a misinterpretation to the ATF’s regulations and remain correct in the definition of what constitutes a firearm. Now, the DOJ wants to declare the words “frame” and “receiver” now mean something entirely different than what they’ve meant since 1968.

One reason as to why the ATF and DOJ didn’t make an effort to update the definitions before now is considered as a real stretch in coming up with something which isn’t a receiver and suddenly reversing 50 years of existing regulations.

Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, says that the firearms industry trade group will “carefully look at the proposed rule and will gather input from our members. The details will matter. We are fully aware of the impact that this proposed rule could have on the firearm industry and gun owners in general. We are interested to know if the proposed rule is consistent with what we saw in the leaked draft documents or if it has changed and what those changes might be. NSSF will file comments concerning the rule.”

The proposed rule is expected to wait for the 90-day public comment phase and once it is published at the Public Register website, comments would be made.

In the past, there has been overwhelming opposition that helped stop a bad draft from turning into a bad reputation. However, it is expected that Biden is prepared to move ahead, irrespective of the public feedback.

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