For the first time since 1968, the Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is seeking to update the legal definition of firearm in an effort to crack down on "ghost guns."
The proposed rule seeks to redefine "frame or receiver" as well as classify more firearm kits as "complete" firearms, making them subject to more regulation and oversight. It also seeks to legally define terms such as "complete muffler or silencer device" as well as "privately made firearms."
The proposed rule targets 3D gun printing.
"Technological advances have also made it easier for unlicensed persons to make firearms at home from standalone parts or weapon parts kits, or by using 3D printers or personally owned or leased equipment, without any records or a background check. Commonly referred to as 'ghost guns,' these privately made firearms ('PMFs'), when made for personal use, are not required by the [Gun Control Act of 1968] to have a serial number placed on the frame or receiver, making it difficult for law enforcement to determine where, by whom, or when they were manufactured, and to whom they were sold or otherwise disposed," the proposed rule states.
National Association for Gun Rights President Dudley Brown said the proposed rule "is a slap in the face to the millions of law-abiding Americans who have built their own firearms at home."
"It’s a nonsense 'feel good’ rule that only burdens good people but does nothing to stop violent criminals and gangsters from obtaining guns," Dudley said. "This is just one more pathetic gun control ploy from Joe Biden as he bows down to the Gun Control Lobby and their unlawful schemes to destroy the Second Amendment."
The proposed rule says that from 2016 and 2020, the number of privately made firearms recovered from the scenes of violent crime increased eight-fold, from 1,750 in 2016 to 8,712 in 2020.
"PMFs are increasingly being made or 3D printed at home without any identifying marks, record keeping, or background checks. In turn, these firearms are progressively finding their way to licensees who may wish to acquire them so they can advertise and market them broadly, or who may repair, customize, or accept them as security in pawn for a loan," the proposed rule said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland says the rule would make Americans safer by making sure that criminals are not able to "exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement."
The ATF is accepting public comment on the proposed rule for 90 days. The department will review the comments and then issue a final rule.
The proposed rule comes nearly one month after President Joe Biden renewed his push for new gun control measures in response to gun violence, which he called a "public health crisis."
Biden said that nothing he proposed would infringe on Americans' Second Amendment rights, adding that "no amendment to the Constitution is absolute."
But National Rifle Association spokesman Lars Dalseide said the proposed rule goes too far.
"The proposed rule would do nothing to address violent crime, while further burdening law-abiding gun owners and the lawful firearm industry with overbroad regulations," Dalseide told Fox News. "The ATF Director would be given an incredible amount of power under the proposed rule. With President Biden's nomination of gun control lobbyist and gun ban proponent David Chipman to head the ATF, this rule could give a gun control extremist the ability to destroy the American firearms industry,"
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said the proposed will "save lives," and commended the Biden administration for its action.
"Unregulated access to unserialized ghost guns has further fuel[ed] gun trafficking into our communities, perpetuating violence into communities created by years of inequity, racism, and oppression," Brady Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice Kelly Sampson said. "By regulating ghost guns as what they are -- firearms, President Biden is reducing a driver of gun violence in our communities and building on his historic funding for community violence prevention. This rule will have an immediate and tangible impact."