Biden to announce new gun regulation and name ATF nominee

Regulation on so-called “ghost guns” (unregulated and untraceable weapons made from kits) will address a critical gap in the government’s ability to trace them by requiring pre-purchase background checks and serial numbers on some of the components. . Although ghost weapons make up a relatively small portion of weapons recovered by law enforcement, they have been seen more frequently in recent years.
Biden is also expected to name Steve Dettelbach, a former Ohio federal prosecutor, as his candidate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The president’s previous nominee was forced to withdraw amid opposition in the Senate.

The moves come as gun violence and crime have increased in the United States, putting pressure on the White House to take action. A series of shootings over the weekend underscored the emergency: Four people, including two teenagers, were shot shortly after a Major League Baseball game in Washington, DC, on Saturday night, police said. In Illinois, six people were injured after a shooting broke out in a residential neighborhood.

Police are also investigating a shooting at a birthday party in Indianapolis where six people were shot and one person died. And two people also died and 10 were hospitalized after a “targeted attack” at a Cedar Rapids nightclub, police say.

Routine and deadly gun violence is a uniquely American problem. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed gun violence as a “serious public health threat” last year. Biden has made modest progress on gun control, but major steps like banning assault weapons or closing loopholes in background checks would require congressional action.

Gun violence traditionally spikes in the summer months, lending added urgency to Monday’s actions.

Biden was expected to address the new gun steps at a public event Monday afternoon, according to people who received invitations.

The new rule issued by the Department of Justice seeks to curb a type of weapon that has been increasingly seen at crime scenes across the country. Ghost Weapon Kits can be purchased online and a weapon can be crafted in as little as 30 minutes. Because regulators can’t track them, phantom guns attract criminals and people with criminal records, according to officials.

The new rules would require anyone who buys a kit to undergo a background check, as is required for other types of firearms purchases. It would also require those selling the kits to mark the components with a serial number, so that the final weapon produced can be traced. And it would force gun dealers to add a serial number to pre-built ghost guns they find in their shops.

“The Biden administration is making sure that these kits are treated like the deadly firearms that they are,” a senior administration official said before the announcement.

“Ghost guns look like a gun, shoot like a gun and kill like a gun, but have not been regulated like a gun until now,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. Him celebrating the Biden administration for “doubling down on his commitment to gun safety.”

Mia Tretta, who was shot and injured with a phantom pistol in a 2019 California school shooting, similarly praised the administration for taking “a critical step” with the new regulation.

“If you can build an IKEA dresser, you can build a ghost gun,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s that easy to get a gun that not only changed my life, but did the same to thousands of others. Ending this rule is a critical step in making sure no one else has to go through what my family did.” have”. had to happen.”

The Justice Department previously launched a national ghost weapons enforcement initiative, which will “train a national cadre of prosecutors and disseminate investigative and prosecutorial tools to help bring cases against those who use ghost weapons to commit crimes,” according to the White House. .

Ghost pistols have been used in multiple recent shootings, including at a Maryland high school in January. The exact number in circulation is unknown, given the inability of regulators to track them.

Between 2016 and 2021, ATF received 45,000 reports of privately made firearms recovered by law enforcement, including 692 of homicides or attempted homicides. The agency was able to trace only 1% of them, authorities said, because the firearms lack serial numbers.

Multiple states have moved to restrict their sale as ghost guns become more common at crime scenes.

Last week, Maryland joined Washington, DC, and 10 other states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington) in banning or restricting the purchase or use of guns. ghost. , which are often purchased online and assembled at home.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer again denounced the use of phantom guns during a news conference Sunday, called for a crackdown on the rise of privately made firearms and spoke about a deadly shooting in the Bronx on Friday.

The New York Democrat blamed Republicans for delaying gun reform legislation, while pressing the Biden administration to go further. “Today I am calling on the administration to go after ghost guns, by enacting regulations that stop them. The federal government has the ability through regulation to stop these phantom guns,” he said.

Still, Biden’s planned gun regulation sparked a backlash from gun rights advocates even before it was officially announced.

Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, said in a statement Sunday: “Biden’s proposal to create a comprehensive national gun registry and end the online sale of gun parts without the approval of a new law exemplifies their disregard for the Second Amendment.”

In September, Biden withdrew his nomination of David Chipman to lead the ATF after facing opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.

Chipman, a former career ATF official, came under scrutiny from gun rights supporters and the National Rifle Association for his work as a senior adviser to Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords, the organization started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot. at an event in her district of Arizona in 2011.

Dettelbach ran unsuccessfully for Ohio’s attorney general in 2018 after serving as a federal prosecutor in the state.

“We will work hard to make sure Steve Dettelbach gets the fair hearing and confirmation he deserves. He should be a non-controversial candidate because he has a long history of working in law enforcement and for the public safety of the people of Ohio and the American people,” said one of the officials.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.

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