Joe Biden needs all the friends he can get on Capitol Hill these days, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is doing his best to give the president a public relations boost by talking up the administration’s proposed rule to treat unfinished gun parts as completed firearms. Schumer says that a growing number of home-built “ghost guns” are being seized by the NYPD, but that the ATF’s proposal will make a difference.
Schumer pointed to a Sunday cover story by the Daily News revealing how the barely legal firearms — sold in pieces, with no serial number, and which do not require a background check — to push the feds to implement a crackdown.
The NYPD has recovered 135 ghost guns so far this year, up from just 17 in 2018 and on pace to exceed the 145 recovered in 2020.
“Just four days ago a man opened fire with a ghost gun on a crowd in Inwood and four people were injured,” Schumer said during a news conference. “No background check is necessary. That means felons, spousal abusers, those who have been adjudicated as mentally ill can get a ghost gun.”
And it’s just as illegal for them to possess one as it is for them to possess a gun purchased on the black market or one that was stolen from a home, car, or business. That, of course, is how the vast majority of armed prohibited persons acquire a firearm, and that won’t change even if Biden’s proposal takes effect.
“Because of the proliferation of ghost guns throughout New York we need the admin to issue this rule as soon as possible,” Schumer said. “When it comes to the ghost guns, we want the ATF to deliver an exorcism.”
Thanks Chuck. Now I have this mental image of an AFT agent in a cassock chanting “The power of David Chipman compels you” at blocks of metal that could perhaps be turned into a functioning firearm with some machining and manual labor.
I don’t think Schumer’s going to get his wish about a swift enactment of the ATF rule. The agency has to go through hundreds of thousands of comments before it can formalize its rule, and once its put in place (likely at some point in the first half of next year), its going to face immediate court challenges. And even a judge were to allow the rule to take effect, the bottom line is that criminals aren’t going to be thwarted by the crackdown on “ghost guns.”
It’s now possible to build a working semi-automatic firearm with a 3D printer and a few parts that can be purchased at any hardware or building supply store, so if a criminal can’t get a gun through illicit means, they can always make their own. Will they be breaking the law if they do so? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean that new regulations or even a ban on home-built guns would actually stop them. At best it would provide another charge to be applied by prosecutors after the fact, while at worst millions of responsible gun owners could be turned into criminals simply for doing what Americans have been able to do since before this country’s founding: build their own firearm in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
The number of home-built firearms seized by the NYPD represents less than 10% of all the guns they’ve “taken off the streets” this year, which is another sign that Schumer and his anti-gun allies are using “ghost guns” as an excuse for their failed public safety strategies. “Ghost guns” are not the first choice of New York’s criminals, despite Schumer’s scary stories, and the rising rates of shootings and homicides in the state won’t be curtailed until police and prosecutors make violent offenders (and not inanimate objects) their top priority.