By Mike Keleher
Here they come. Again.
This week, TheReload.com obtained a leaked copy of the new 107 page BATF document listing new definitions and restrictions on the production of unfinished frame kits for pistols and AR rifles. BATF and DOJ were given the push by President Biden on April 8th to move out and make some new rules to outlaw “Ghost Gun” kits.
The liberal administration needs enemies to dominate-particularly enemies that don’t fight back. Promises were made during the election cycle and anti-gun agenda is bigger than ever.
The concept of “untraceable Ghost Guns” gets slopped around as an all-bad, all-evil item, almost as often as COVID, and the new prevalent evil of “white supremacists” which apparently is all around us according to the narrative, which needs nebulous enemies to rally the politically correct against, and to show how wonderful the controlling party must really be.
The idea of tracing registered guns is of course being bent out of shape. One source says over 80% of all legally purchased and possessed firearms are not registered with any government entity after they are purchased. Federal law enforcement traces only locate original point of sale- not where a gun is “registered” unless the law abiding owner lives in a jurisdiction that requires logging them in with the state or city where they live.
Well how many “Ghost Guns” are being used illegally and recovered at crime scenes frustrating law enforcement efforts to solve crimes? No one knows. Some anecdotal evidence exists in news reporting, but no one is keeping track. The FBI is not keeping track. There is no word if BATF is keeping official track. When Biden mentioned the ghost topic in April, the next day his press secretary was asked how many are used in crimes, and she said “I’m sure you can find out.”
Quick internet searches found one cite stating BATF claims 10,000 police cases with non-serialized guns in 2019, 250 seized in Philadelphia in 2020 and 125 in Baltimore in 2020. No large data studies were found.
This of course brings up the question “How many make- at-home guns exist in America?” The National Shooting Sports Foundation states 434 million have been manufactured for private ownership over the last 25 years. That is a lot of guns not being used in criminal activity…over 400 million in fact.
The proposed BATF draft requires kit manufacturers to become federally licensed and regulated manufacturers, any such frame made and sold must have a manufacturer applied permanent serial number, and anyone purchasing a kit to make their own firearm (which is allowed under the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 USC Ch 44 Sec 922 (d)) must undergo a government background check prior to the purchase and route the sale through an FFL.
Central to the issue, is BATF stating they need to redefine what a firearm is or isn’t regarding these unfinished hunks of plastic or aluminum. They don’t like the fact sales have been so successful without having serial numbers or production numbers to track. The idea serial number tracking is a huge law enforcement issue is implied with this effort.
Any such tracking of course, only really works after guns have been used illegally by criminals-who generally are not allowed to possess firearms. The new rules once again burden the manufacturers and law abiding. Nothing in the proposed documents address criminal behavior or preventing crime- just making otherwise legal acts like selling a plastic mold, a jig and a couple of drill bits without Government say-so a potential federal felony.
Taking on “Ghost Guns” is BATF’s newest language battle over “what is a gun.” The agency is 0-2 on the year in such attempts, following a pretty visible retreat over an attempt to clamp down on AR pistol wrist braces this winter (public comments caused the agency to take down their proposed language after only one week of publication.) They also lost on the Bump Stock Ban-claiming that piece of plastic was a “machine gun”, which the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals declared unconstitutional in March of this year.
Included with the finish-at-home guns restrictions, BATF also mentions they need to get language right about what a receiver is, and which part is actually “the gun” which needs a serial number, and what does the phrase “readily convertible” have to do with making a gun at home.
New models which have a removable and replaceable fire control group like the Sig Sauer P320 series may eventually be called on the table. The fire control group, which drops in to other pre-made, non-serialized plastic grip modules gets called into question-is that grip the same as an 80% grip?
A Sig Sauer grip module is just a hunk of plastic, like a Polymer 80 frame is just a hunk of plastic. But BATF would like to change the rules to say that by drilling 2 or 3 holes in the P80 plastic , nipping a couple of plastic tabs off and a bit of sanding- this makes the Polymer 80 type frame a firearm and subject to all applicable manufacturing and sales laws.
Other items listed in the 107 page BATF document include serial numbers on suppressors, requiring FFL gun dealers to keep records beyond the now 20 year requirement, and to allow gunsmiths to put serial numbers on privately made firearms.
BATF declined to comment if this leaked document is in fact their newest restriction effort, but they have until May 8th to get it published and have it open for public comment for two weeks.