Photo credit: fharbor.com
(At least his finger is out of the trigger guard…)
I have watched the national and state news this week trying to make some sense of all the new “almost laws” and threatened consequences for non-serialized homemade guns, and after considerable review I remain fairly boggled to see all of this come down in one week.
“Ghost guns” is the term used by the White House and media to describe do it yourself guns made at home, legal under federal law since, well forever, and they do not have to have a serial number or federal record. They are built for personal use, not resale.
Photo Credit: gunlove.com
Ole Joe Biden keeps saying stomping on gun rights is just fine, and it keeps you from owning just anything you like which might be “dangerous.” He has repeatedly said you couldn’t just buy or have a cannon as an example. Well actually in the history of America you could always own your own cannon. Still can. There has never been a federal prohibition against building you own gun. The Gun Control Act of 1968 declared under 18 USC Ch 44 “Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the Gun Control Act provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited (a felon for example) from receiving or possessing firearms.”
80% complete polymer frames for AR’s and Glock-like pistols popped up ten or so years ago on the market. They do not have serial numbers and were allowed for sale without government involvement since they were not completed frames, which by law must have serials and be federally registered like a full firearm. A huge commercial business emerged and thousands or perhaps a million amateur gunsmiths drilled out and completed these frames and put parts in them to create working pistols and AR-15 lower frames for their own use with no federal involvement. It was all legal per BATF.
Democrats have been suffering through the biggest “I told you so” period in our nation’s elected history. Nothing has been built, nothing is back, and nothing is better. The economy has witnessed the worst inflation in 40 years. Defund the police ideas have massively backfired. Pedos want to talk to other people’s kids about sexual choices in kindergarten and grade schools. Too lenient bail reform and sentencing have seen violent crime skyrocket. Gas prices have been at record highs. Hunter Biden and his Pop’s connections to foreign influence are back in the spotlight. The border is overrun at a rate never seen in history…and internationally? Whew. I think we can just sum that one up as “It’s all bad over there too. Yep. Everywhere. All the time.” Who elected these people? If you had an elaborate plan ready to implement when you took the reins, could you mess things up so bad worldwide in such a short period of time? Or is it just mega-incompetency in so many areas? You choose.
Now with declining COVID rates, the Liberals can’t distract the people with threat of imminent death in every news broadcast, and citizens are making the time to pay attention to everything actively wrong with the current majority political party platform in action. What’s a party to do? We need a distraction! Let’s attack “Ghost Guns” to show we are somehow anti-crime and are “doing something.” Gun rights be damned!
Illinois Ban– the state legislature rammed a bill through in the dead of night last weekend attached as the second amendment to something innocuous called HB4383 Utilities-Certified Mail which addresses utility right of ways. The second amendment part however is a ban on home-built firearms in the state to include the fact there is no Grandfathering allowed. All non-serialized frames MUST be taken to an FFL to be inscribed with a serial no. and recorded in FFL paperwork- or you are expected to destroy or turn your home-built items over to the police. Simple possession of items of plastic frames with no serial number will become a Class A Misdemeanor and for a second violation a Class 3 Felony.
The Senate sponsor of the bill is running in the primaries to become U.S. Representative for Illinois, and the House sponsor? He is looking at a run for mayor of Chicago. Good to have this bill in their hip pockets. A couple high crime states and cities have “Ghost Gun” bans, Illinois would be the first Midwest state with such a prohibition.
No Republicans voted in favor of this bill in the state Senate or the House. It goes to Gov. “I’m better than the worst ever so re-elect me” Pritzker, for signature, and is widely believed to be a done deal and will pass into law.
This colorful Easter egg of a law of course does not consider FFL’s are not set up to engrave items, and any paperwork that would be involved in recording the new serial number would of course be federal paperwork. No such registry exists within the state.
The awful language in the bill also technically may declare many commercially modular pistols like Sig 365’s as needing serial numbers on their plastic frames and could be construed to believe AR’s would need the upper serialized to match the lowers. Far flung unintended consequences. Hmmm.
This law claims to be anti-crime “to keep guns out of the hands of criminals” and help track guns used in crimes by those selfsame criminals who after all are not allowed to possess them, or menace or shoot them at people…because all of that is already AGAINST THE LAW! This nasty bit of legislation would however make thousands of previously legal home-built guns-illegal. Yes, the law abiding will once again suffer because a small number of criminals who have been caught using these home-built guns in crimes.
Chicago stats are showing about 1%-3% of seized guns last year are non-serialized. Legislators as always ignore the fact criminals (who can’t have guns) don’t purchase them legally. Most are stolen or passed around from straw purchasers (also illegal). Strange but true…criminals don’t follow the law? Wha? When did this happen?
White House and the BATF– Well the still leaderless BATF, has been promising an administrative decision on definitions of home-built guns and when a “firearm” is a “firearm” and when a single part is a “firearm” had must be serialized and treated to all the laws which apply to fully complete firearms. ATF had to open the matter for public discussion this winter and received almost 300,000 public comments along with industry input. This week they finally delivered their document declaring what is new and must change and ignoring the fact it was BATF who previously allowed with the sale of home-built firearm parts without federal involvement. These changes, including all companies who make lower receivers like the 80% kits will now have to be federally licensed as gun dealers, subject to all federal sales laws, and every polymer frame will have a serial number and treated as a complete firearm and subject to all federal firearm laws.
Good ole Double Barrel Joe Biden announced the Ghost Gun Bans from the White House this week and via the DOJ Office of Public Affairs, as part of his not so well known “War of Crime” (How is that going for you and the libs? Pretty good?” With all his presidential approval numbers in the tank, his handlers are desperate for a good headline…somewhere. Anywhere!
The President in Need of a Nap, said all manufacturers will have to serialize the parts and gun dealers must employ full background checks, add serial numbers to unmarked units, and fill out all federal paperwork to sell a component part which could be used to create a “real” firearm someday. Federal Firearms License holders would also be required to maintain sales paperwork beyond the current 20 years. Using this ATF opinion, the agency gets to codify it into law via publication in the Code of Federal Regulations…all without any legislature involvement. Easy Peasy.
The actual ATF document is 364 pages long. Have I read it all? Nope. Now I am a learned man, and spent many many years in colleges, universities and even law school, and am a retired attorney and federal agent…I have been educated way beyond my means to comprehend most issues…but my Socratic Method trained brain turns to pudding trying to read this document. (To be fair my brain is already in a near pudding state, but I can’t read all this repetitive nonsense even boosted by lots of caffeine.)
The one positive takeaway I did get so far, and backed by the DOJ’s Public Affairs announcement, is the federal government did not address the status of already completed home built guns-only parts to be sold in the future are addressed and citizens will still be able to make their own firearms legally from parts. They will just have to be serialized and federally recorded parts.
The Statistics on Ghost Guns– I wanted to get some idea on the actual number of “Ghost Guns” being built by criminals to avoid purchase laws or used in crimes. The results are confusing at best, and as suspected, the government stated numbers may be blown out of proportion and then repeated until accepted as “fact.” Some observers have studied on it and said the government stats are not accurate and unproveable. Go figure.
In this day and age, the government had decided to take on a gun rights issue and used questionable or unproven statistics to back up their never-before-seen restrictions on the public. Hmmm, where else have we seen this government behave like this?
The Justice Dept reported ATF supplied stats of 45,000 non-serialized guns recovered between Jan 2016-Dec 2021 and 692 of 45,000 were involved with homicides or attempted homicides. Wait, what? 692 out of 45,000? I had to ask Alexa for the math, and she says that is only 1.53%. Don’t trust me for math. Trust Alexa. The Washington Times published a piece saying locally the police recovered 139 “ghost guns” out of 11,218 seized in 2021-about 1.2% seized, not broken down into actual crime use, just seized.
The Washington Examiner said NYC recovered 6,000 “illegal guns” last year and 200 were ghost guns. 3.33%. Stalwart journalists at CNN claim Chicago had 12,088 guns seized last year and 455 were ghost guns-3.76%. Again, these are just recovered stats, not guns cited to specific crimes. I have to think the deadly uses have to be considerably less than the totality of the 3% seized.
A real nice MSN.com document said the Justice Department only recovered 24,000 between 2016 and 2020. An NRA-ILA piece this week said 10,000 were recovered nationwide in 2019 according to a BATF search warrant affidavit, and the White House claimed 20,000 recovered last year- a ten-fold increase from 2016.
Following those confusing numbers where “Da gummamint” would be taking on the problem caused by between 1% and 3% of seized guns, (Really, 1-3%? Harumph. Harumph.)
I found an excellent piece on Ammoland.com “Whistleblower: Biden’s Crackdown on Ghost Guns Based on ATF Hoax.” The article says apparently, the data provided by ATF to the Prez can’t be backed up by ATF (not that the anti-gun agenda really needs facts or stats anymore.)
The whole “ghost gun pandemic” seems to have originated by the former Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the BATF’s Los Angeles Field Office. When asked to comment in 2020 to a media question about how numerous the ghost guns were in California, and how a study said 30% of ATF gun recoveries in the state were ghost guns, the SAC supposedly said 41% of their cases involved ghost guns.
Well, in the Ammoland story, the Second Amendment Foundation Investigative Journalism Project contacted ATF Los Angles, and the Public Information Officer was unable to verify figures attributed to the former SAC. The story then went on to report a whistleblower from a U.S. Congressman’s staff asked DOJ for ghost gun data (BATF falls under the DOJ in the Executive Branch), and DOJ said they do not have “accurate/comprehensive databases to track the use in actual crimes.” A few days later the president cited “data” as part of his need to crack down on the obvious public safety pandemic going on via somebody, doing something, somewhere. You know. C’mon man. Badness. Sort of.
What does it all mean to someone with a previously legal do it yourself firearm with no serial number? After looking at all this pile of “well meaning” crap being exhibited this week at both the federal and state level, it left me scratching my head about what law-abiding citizens can do or what to expect next.
Will BATF send agents out door to door to try and collect legally held firearms which were assembled with 80% kits? No. Those guns seem to not have been addressed, only future sales by manufacturers and retailers. Hopefully they are grandfathered and left alone. If ATF tries additional raids on manufacturers to collect sales records those manufacturers have quite publicly announced, they will fight tooth and nail in the courts against it.
Will Illinois send ISP agents door to door looking for unregistered/un-serialized frames? They could if they have probable cause, beginning six months after the government signs HB 4383. Will they? Very doubtful. This is legislation intended to be a feel-good notion with not much ado related to practicality and enforcement.
The Illinois law will put all the heavy lifting/blame/expense on the law-abiding gun owners. The state does not have the resources to chase these items down independently. No one knows how many kits were sold, or are still in the state. Police who bump into un-serialized frames in the course of their duties, will just pile another misdemeanor possession charge on the criminal who most likely is not entitled to possess any firearm, or use a firearm illegally, or does not have an Illinois FOID card…yes just piling on. Not really a crime reduction law. But all you law abiding citizens better toe the line and get your 80% frames engraved and federally registered…or get out! (Move? Like the other 400 families a day fleeing the Land of Lincoln due to its terrible tax rates and mismanagement?)
Several pro-gun organizations have already taken up the charge to challenge the Illinois ghost gun ban and will fight it out in court. Other national organizations are crying foul about the ATF rule making and are preparing to challenge it as well, even though it is less Draconian than the Illinois law. The U.S. Supreme Court has not heard any 2A challenges on this historical right to make your own firearms at home.
What to do?
1. Well, I’m not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice for you, just options I see on the road ahead. First up, you can do nothing and hope for the best. You can hope other people will challenge these proposed law changes and get them stopped. Not much of a plan there. Yet the head in the sand approach is quite a well observed phenomenon with gun owners. It rarely turns out well.
2. You can destroy your previously legal non-serialized frame or turn it over to the police. Remember when New Jersey changed their high-capacity magazine law in 2019? One of their stated options, was to turn over mags to the police as good citizens. None were turned in. Zero. The people challenged the law in the courts. I guess the politicians in that state overestimated the wonderfulness of their “new good idea.” Turns out you can go too far, even in New Jersey.
3. You can get your frame serialized and recorded by an FFL. But I don’t know any who currently do that. There was a small number who did engraving for Short Barreled Rifle requirements under the NFA, but where are they? Do you have to ship your frame out of state to comply? If it is engraved and FFL recorded, does it now have to be shipped back to another FFL before you can retrieve it? I did see an email ad pop up late in the week from a company in Florida who has added “Mail us your 80 for serial engraving.” The ad says they will do it for $49.95. They are RIGHT TO BEAR, ARMS AND SUPPLY LLC, at www.righttobear.com. In the service ad, they include “Please note: You cannot send us an 80% lower if it has been machined or modified in any way. 100% (from the manufacturer) Lower Receivers can be mailed-in but MUST be shipped from a certified FFL holder” so it looks like they can’t engrave your lower if you have already drilled holes in it. Contact the company for details- email email@example.com, tel: 877 505 9675.
4. You can replace your evil non-serialized piece of polymer plastic with a new one that is already serialized and the sale routes through an FFL. Perhaps seeing some of this writing on the wall, Polymer80, probably the largest 80% frame sales company, started selling serialized frames over a year ago. A quick internet peek found other companies selling them too including Glock Store, Rocket City Stippling, Grey Ghost Precision and Primary Arms. Cost for a serialized frame alone is running $120-$150. The frame can be purchased online, but then has to be shipped to your FFL for processing and you do the paperwork there and undergo background and waiting periods just like a “real” gun.
5. Support your pro-gun organizations. They are going to come knocking looking for financial help. Don’t just wait for others to defend your rights. Get invested in defense of your liberties. Help out, before it is too late. What is it worth to you? Do you have a dollar value in mind of how much this erosion of the Second Amendment is worth to you? Groups will be asking for funds- give some. If you don’t have a lot to give, then give a little. Even $5 will help fight the injustice and trammeling of your rights. Fighting gun rights, magazine sizes and wrist braces are all liberal campaign promises coming true in an era where they are desperate to generate some positive spin headlines-but it comes at a cost to law abiding gun owners. There is no cost or burden placed on criminals by any of this legislation/executive actions.
6. Call or write your representatives. They should hear from you even if they don’t support you or your ideas. Include the fact you vote and are quite willing to influence others to vote in the next election against your rep for failure to oppose bad ideas. You can still contact the Governor of Illinois and urge him to not sign the bill presented to him about Ghost Guns. I am not sure anything will stop him from signing this awful bill into law-he needs the publicity- but it is worth letting your voice be heard. You can call or email for free or even mail an old-fashioned snail mail letter-and letters are harder for politician staffs to avoid than phone calls and emails. Most pols require their staff to respond to written letters. What does that cost you? Less than a buck for an envelope, paper and a stamp? If you can’t afford it let me know. Maybe I can organize a Go-Fund Me page to raise a dollar to support your political efforts to protect your Constitutional rights.
Office of the Governor
207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706
Tel: 217 782 6830 or 217 782 6831
Hearing Impaired: 888 340 1009
Internet based “Voice an Opinion” Portal: www2.illinois.gov/sites/gov/contactus/Pages/Voiceanopinion.aspx
You can copy and paste my message if it makes it easier for you:
“Governor. Please do not sign HB 4383 when it comes to your desk. Be aware Amendment 2 was added late night to impose bans on thousands of currently legal home-built firearms inaccurately referred to as “Ghost Guns”. This practice of making your own gun at home without federal licensing for your own legal possession has been legal in the U.S. since the country was founded, and this bill would outlaw thousands of legally owned and BATF approved firearms at the stroke of your pen. Please do not strike at the Constitutional rights of second amendment supporters in pursuit of an “Anti-crime Headline” while violent crime is out of hand in major Illinois cities. This law does nothing to burden criminals or take firearms they are already prohibited from owning or using away from criminals. It just burdens the law abiding.”