Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed his call on Sunday for the federal government to crack down on so-called “ghost guns,” which have become an increasingly popular way for people to buy firearms while bypassing background checks.
Schumer said President Joe Biden must enact a rule change at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) so that easy-to-assemble kits of gun parts are classified as a regular firearm requiring the checks and serial numbers, and that their sellers register as licensed dealers.
“Ghost guns are the latest way criminals and bad people can get guns without a background check, without any — any — check on who they are. They could be a felon. They could be a five-year-old,” Schumer told reporters during an April 10 press conference in Midtown.
NYPD have seized more of the untraced guns in recent years in what Schumer called an “explosion” of illicit weapons, recovering 375 in 2021, more than double the 145 collected in 2020, along with 48 in 2019 and 17 in 2018.
So far this year, cops have found 131 of the phantom firearms.
A loophole in the current ATF regulations allows gun frames and receivers to be sold without registration if some parts are not included.
Buyers often get the pieces online and then purchase the rest separately, without breaking the law, and sellers even market them as easy to assemble, Schumer noted.
“Bad people want to get guns learn this is the easiest way to get a gun,” Schumer said. “What they used to do is go on a street corner and go to some gun dealer and hand them a couple of hundred bucks and buy a gun. This is easier, they can sit in their home have it all mailed to their house, assemble it, and there they got it.”
Schumer previously called for the ATF to adapt its regulations in October.
The senior Democrat said that the Senate didn’t have the votes to pass a law change, citing Republicans who didn’t want to increase gun control, and opposition by groups like the National Rifle Association.
If Biden changes the rules with the ATF, Schumer expects there to be lawsuits, but voiced confidence that the tweaks would withstand legal challenges.
“We’ve tried to pass it by legislation in the Senate. We don’t have enough support, our Republican senators are in the arms of the NRA,” Schumer said. “So we’re asking the Administration to do it by regulation without going through the Senate. We believe it will be challenged in court by the NRA, but at the very least, I think we have a very good chance of the courts upholding it.”
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.