A new Biden administration rule governing “ghost guns,” the kits that allow people to assemble homemade firearms without serial numbers, took effect on Wednesday after two federal judges declined to block the measure, reports the Washington Post. The rule mandates serial numbers on gun kits and directs licensed dealers to sell them only with background checks. The judges’ decisions were victories for the Biden administration, which has portrayed the rule as a necessary tool to help law enforcement officials combat a surge in gun violence. Other court challenges are pending. The new rule changes how a “firearm frame or receiver” is defined in federal regulations, expanding it to “include a weapon parts kit” that can be quickly assembled. The Justice Department said the rule does not ban anyone from having a privately made firearm.
Ghost guns have drawn growing scrutiny, with law enforcement agencies saying they are increasingly used in crimes. At a Rose Garden ceremony in April that included gun kits as props, President Biden called ghost guns “weapons of choice for many criminals.” Between 2016 and 2021, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives got more than 45,000 reports of “privately made firearms” recovered by authorities during criminal investigations, the Justice Department said. The new rule addressing ghost guns follows an unusual wave of activity on Capitol Hill, where legislation connected to firearms often goes nowhere. After high-profile mass shootings this year, Congress passed modest gun-control legislation.