Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a survivor of the 2019 Saugus High School shooting were among those attending a White House event Monday at which President Joe Biden announced regulations to rein in “ghost guns” amid what the administration called a 10-fold increase in law enforcement seizures of the virtually untraceable firearms.
Ghost guns, which do not have serial numbers, can be assembled by unlicensed buyers from legally purchased kits. The firearms’ parts — which can be ordered online — were not required under federal law to have serial numbers or a background check to purchase.
“Today, I had the honor of joining President Biden as he announced a series of new regulations that will make our schools, theaters, and public spaces safer for everyone,” Garcetti said in a statement Monday afternoon. “No longer can assailants take advantage of the invisibility of ghost guns to evade justice for their atrocious acts. Let’s remember the work is not yet done. With every new rule and regulation, our communities are safer — but we won’t rest until every illegal gun is off our streets and those responsible for heinous acts of violence are behind bars.”
Biden announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice made it illegal for a business to manufacture a ghost gun kit without a serial number. The new rule classifies ghost gun kits as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act. It also makes it illegal for a licensed gun dealer to sell the kits without conducting a background check.
The new regulations also require dealers who come into possession of a ghost gun to add a serial number to the firearm before reselling it.
“All of a sudden, it’s no longer a ghost (gun). It has a return address that’s going to help save lives, reduce crime and get criminals off the street,” Biden said.
The president said he asked the attorney general to write the regulation after Congress failed to pass legislation to reform firearm laws.
Also among those attending the White House announcement was Mia Tretta, who was wounded in the November 2019 fatal campus shooting by a fellow student at Saugus High School. Tretta described being shot in the stomach during the violence, but said she was able to run away and survive, unlike two of her classmates. The student who carried out the shooting — and killed himself — was armed with a ghost gun.
Biden’s announcement, however, was met with disdain by some Republican lawmakers.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, said Biden’s regulations “would not have stopped the recent mass shooting in Sacramento committed by a dangerous felon released early by soft-on-crime Democrats using a stolen firearm.”
He said Biden should “stop targeting law-abiding citizens … and instead support law enforcement” and “end soft-on-crime policies.”
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, tweeted, “The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This is a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 — literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution — says Congress makes law, not POTUS (the president).”
The White House cited data that about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after being recovered by law enforcement, a 10-fold increase from 2016.
Los Angeles has taken local steps to combat the increase in ghost guns. On Nov. 30, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of ghost guns. Violation of the city ordinance will be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
City Attorney Mike Feuer, who said he was invited to Biden’s announcement Monday but could not attend because he is recovering from COVID- 19, celebrated the new federal rule in a statement Monday.
“I applaud President Biden’s actions to combat the proliferation of ghost guns. … Unserialized, untraceable ghost guns pose a major public safety threat in neighborhoods across America,” Feuer said.