Do you know how to assemble IKEA furniture? If so, you can assemble a ghost gun. Ghost Guns are firearms that can be purchased online and sent to you for you to easily assemble. The seller can even include a link to a helpful YouTube video. But there’s a catch – they aren’t really considered firearms. Well, at least not when you buy them.
Since the guns are sent unassembled in pieces, they are not subject to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) registration and background checks like other firearms. This lack of regulation allows anyone to buy and assemble high-powered, unobtainable firearms at home. Ghost guns are real guns, so they should be regulated and treated as such.
On April 11, President Biden, in a joint effort with the Department of Justice, took the first step toward regulating ghost weapons. Biden announced a new rule that, if implemented, would require all firearms sold online, assembled or unassembled, to have a serial number engraved on them. In addition, sellers would be required to do background checks on all buyers. The new rule would finally treat ghost guns like the real guns they are. While this is a welcome action, like so many other sensible gun control measures, it is long overdue.
Since their invention, ghost guns have become increasingly popular, with over 68% of all online sellers becoming active after 2014. gun, to pay and have it delivered to their doorstep. to assemble in a few weeks. There are no pesky background checks or waiting periods, which are points advertised on some sellers’ websites.
Ghost guns are undoubtedly dangerous for many reasons. First, the lack of registration needed to obtain a ghost gun makes them readily available to people who are not allowed to own firearms, allowing deadly weapons to easily fall into the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and children.
Recently, ghost guns have been appearing in the hands of children in schools at an alarming rate. The 2019 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California left two dead and three injured in the span of sixteen seconds. The weapon used? A .45 caliber pistol built from a ghost gun kit purchased online. In November 2021, a 15-year-old Phoenix-area high school student shot and injured a 16-year-old during an attempt to purchase a ghost gun from a school bathroom. In January 2022, at a high school in Maryland, a 17-year-old student used a ghost gun to shoot and seriously injure a 15-year-old classmate during an argument.
If the problem of ghost guns in the possession of children at school doesn’t paint a sufficiently gloomy picture, the number of domestic abusers who obtain these guns is equally concerning. In February of this year, a man opened fire in a Sacramento church, killing his three young daughters and a bystander before turning the gun on himself. The shooter, prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a restraining order filed against him, was able to obtain an unregistered and untraceable ghost gun.
Ghost guns are clearly getting into the hands of the wrong people and causing damage; the new rule announced by the Biden administration may stop that to some degree. By requiring background checks and registration, firearms could not be purchased seamlessly by those who cannot afford them. After all, if a person is prohibited from owning a firearm, the rules should still apply, even if it is sold as parts. A gun is a gun no matter who assembles it.
Like any potential rule related to gun regulation in the United States, the phantom gun rule has come under heavy criticism from gun rights groups and politicians. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, along with fellow Republicans Mike Lee, James Lankford and Mike Braun, introduced a joint resolution of disapproval of the Congressional Review Act just days after the new rule was announced. The senators argue that the new rule unfairly targets law-abiding gun owners and will have no effect on crime rates.
If the gun owners the aforementioned senators are referring to are indeed law-abiding, then the proposed rule should be no problem. They will still be able to buy DIY gun kits online and have them shipped to their doorstep. Ghost guns are not prohibited; there will just be security measures added to the purchase process.
Ghost guns are real guns and they should be regulated. These firearms cannot be made available to anyone, regardless of age or background, to purchase, manufacture and use. More lives will be lost if nothing is done. The new rule targeting phantom weapons announced by the Biden administration is long overdue and must be passed.
Claire Schad is an opinion writer. She can be reached at [email protected].