This bill — known as the Ghost Guns are Guns Act — would broaden the definition of “firearm” in the federal criminal code to include any combination of parts designed and intended to convert a device into a firearm, and from which a firearm may be assembled. It’d also require background checks for firearms purchases to buyers of firearms kits. Under current law, the purchase of gun assembly kits is permitted without a background check.
What is House Bill H.R. 1278?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1278
In-Depth: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) introduced this bill to close the “ghost guns” loophole which allows purchasers to avoid federal background checks by buying unassembled firearms online:
“It is a little known fact that individuals who would otherwise be barred from purchasing firearms still have the ability to purchase a gun assembly kit online. Guns assembled using these kits are called ghost guns because they are often times completely untraceable, assembled using a receiver that does not have a serial number, and are almost impossible to be tracked by law enforcement. The Ghost Guns Are Guns Act closes this loophole as these guns are more often used in violent crimes and pose serious safety concerns to our communities and law enforcement.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the most influential pro-gun lobbying organization in the United States, hasn’t taken a public stance on this legislation. However, it’s worth noting that: 1) the NRA was part of crafting a 1988 law making the sale of untraceable firearms illegal, and 2) the NRA’s current spokesperson, Dana Loesch, has expressed support for untraceable 3D-printed guns, calling attempts to restrict 3D gun blueprint access “as unenforceable as trying to institute bans on magazine capacity” and calling 3D-printed guns symbols of “freedom and innovation.” Loesch has further stated that, since there are already laws that unsuccessfully try to stop criminals from getting guns, it’d be impossible to control the creation of 3D-printed guns anyway.
There are 17 cosponsors of this bill,all of whom are Democrats.
Of Note: Under current law, people can purchase gun-assembly kits online and at stores without a screening process.
The term “ghost gun” first popped up into the political lexicon in 2014, when California Sen Kevin de Leon (D-CA) backed a proposal to regulate unserialized firearms made out of unfinished gun parts through the state Department of Justice. After repeated efforts, California adopted a series of new requirements on these homemade guns in 2016.
Other states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, have followed California’s lead on ghost guns. In June 2018, New Jersey’s attorney general sent warning letters to manufacturers of “ghost guns” and state lawmakers pursued a formal ban on the sale of firearm parts used to make untraceable homemade guns. New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, targeted companies advertising online for the sale of “unregistered and unserialized firearms — including assault weapons — constructed, at least in part, by the purchaser.”
The ghost gun issue has been brought to the forefront by the current debate over 3D-printed guns, which are becoming increasingly accessible as 3D-printing technology itself becomes cheaper and more accessible. On July 30, 2018, a federal judge temporarily delayed this future by blocking the release of controversial blueprints for 3D-printed guns — but the debate is ongoing, and the inevitable improvement and cost reduction of 3D printing may make 3D-printed ghost guns cheap, accessible, and untraceable for would-be criminals in future.
- Sponsoring Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) Press Release
- Countable (Context)
- Vox (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStock / mailfor)
Ghost Guns Are Guns Act
To amend title 18, United States Code, to require firearm assembly kits to be considered to be firearms.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedMarch 1st, 2017
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