WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and a group of colleagues today introduced the Untraceable Firearms Act, that would ban “ghost” guns. Recent reports indicate that the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have spurred an increase in demand for and sale of these untraceable weapons. Sen. Menendez recently called for strengthening background checks amidst a massive increase in gun sales during the coronavirus emergency.
“The spread of untraceable firearms in our country is very concerning and we have to do more to keep these dangerous weapons from our communities,” said Sen. Menendez. “Homemade and 3-D printed lethal weaponry, as well as other untraceable firearms, pose a unique risk to the public, therefore, federal law should treat these as the dangerous firearms they are. At a time when the firearm death rate is at an historic high, it is our responsibility to make communities safer and prevent tragedies.”
The Untraceable Firearms Act would include ghost guns and their core building blocks – unfinished frames and receivers – and the gun-making kits used to build them in the definition of “firearm” under federal law. In doing so, online gun kit manufacturers and distributors would be required to comply with the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms. This includes a requirement that sellers have a manufacturer’s license and put a serial number on the frame or receiver included in each kit, and that purchasers undergo a background check. The bill also incorporates the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which would prohibit firearms that can be easily modified to be pass through metal detectors undetected.
This legislation is also endorsed by leading gun violence prevention groups Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Newtown Action Alliance.
“Thanks to pandemic panic-buying, ghost gun kits are flying off the shelves — and without action from Congress or the ATF, they can be delivered right to the front door of a convicted domestic abuser, gun trafficker, or white supremacist without a background check,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Ghost guns are an existential threat to public safety,” said Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director. “These do-it-yourself guns are untraceable, making it easier for people who should not own a firearm to obtain one and more difficult for law enforcement officials to do their jobs. Senator Blumenthal’s Untraceable Firearms Act will reverse this, ensuring that ghost guns are regulated in the same way as traditionally manufactured guns. His common sense legislation will make communities across America safer and is an example of the leadership needed to end gun violence. Hopefully other members of Congress will show the same courage as Senator Blumenthal to pass this important legislation.”
“Untraceable ghost guns are a clear and present danger to all Americans since they are becoming the weapons of choice for criminals and now mass shooters,” said Po Murray, Newtown Action Alliance & Newtown Action Alliance Foundation Chairwoman. “All firearms including assault weapons whether made in a factory or in your basement should have serial numbers to enable law enforcement to their job effectively. Ghost guns circumvent the federal and state gun laws therefore any individual can acquire the DIY kits without background checks. Ghost guns kits are selling out due to COVID19 panic buying therefore Congress must act now to pass Senator Blumenthal’s federal bill to protect all Americans and prevent tragedies.”
In addition to Sen. Menendez, the legislation was cosponsored Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
The text of the bill can be found here.