It’s likely that within just a few weeks the Biden administration will be rolling out its final rule on home-built, unserialized firearms, and the ATF is getting an assist in helping to craft its narrative around the new regulation from ABC News. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re taking a closer look at the network’s latest story, including some pretty wild claims by gun control activists that went entirely unchallenged by the news outlet.
From the get-go, the ABC piece’s premise is that something must be done about the scourge of home-built guns that are flooding American cities.
The modified definition is meant to disrupt a supply chain that has strengthened over the past five years, gun control experts said. The number of unserialized (and thus unregulated) firearms seized by major metro police departments has grown exponentially. In Philadelphia, local police seized 571 ghost guns in 2021 compared to 13 in 2018. In New York City, police seized 375 ghost guns in 2021 compared to 48 in 2019, according to city data.
“I could spend hours telling these stories about how these ghost guns have hurt our community and made our streets unsafe,” Baltimore Police Chief Michael Harrison, whose department seized nine ghost guns in 2018 compared to 352 in 2021, said at a January press conference.
Let’s talk about Baltimore for a paragraph or two. The number of “ghost guns” recovered by police has soared over the past few years, but what about the city’s homicides? If the availability of home-built guns was directly responsible for fueling violent crime, then we’d expect murders to be increasing at roughly the same rate as “ghost gun” seizures, right? That’s not what’s happening.
Homicides in Baltimore haven’t dipped below 300 per year since 2014, which means that the city’s murder spike started long before unserialized firearms started showing up in greater numbers. In fact, from 2014 to 2015 the homicide count in Baltimore ballooned from 211 to 344; not because Maryland relaxed its gun laws in any way (quite the opposite, actually, given that the state’s Firearm Safety Act was approved in 2013) but because of the Freddie Gray riots and the lingering aftermath that impacted everything from police to the courts to the city’s political circles.
Even as the number of unserialized firearms seized by police have grown, the homicide rate in Baltimore has remained largely static, with a high of 348 homicides reported in 2019 and a slight decline to 335 in 2020 and 337 in 2021. Baltimore police may be finding more unserialized firearms, but that’s not what’s to blame for the city’s inability or unwillingness to curb violent crime.
That wasn’t the only claim to pass by ABC News without comment. Check out this whopper from one of Michael Bloomberg’s bootlickers.
“There’s no question about it, that the regulation will shut down the marketplace going forward,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told ABC News.
No question? Really? That’s a pretty bold claim for a rule that hasn’t been formally released yet, especially given the fact that technology has advanced to the point where “zero-percent” lowers can be crafted in a few hours from a solid block of aluminum.
I’ll give ABC News a smidgen of credit for actually talking to Larry Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s general counsel and senior vice president, about the industry’s concerns over the impending rule change.
Already, the proposed changes have been met with pushback from the firearms trade industry. Keane, from the NSSF, said in an interview with ABC News that the proposed definition overreaches ATF’s statutory authority. Many of the new implementations, such as multiple or reprinted serial numbers on guns, a manufacturing overhaul and unclear implementation details, overstep the ATF’s authority, he said.
Keane also said the 90-day period from when the rule is implemented to when firearm manufacturers have to comply is too short for major changes to the law.
“So (the ATF) indicated that the comments from (the firearm) industry were helpful, and made them think about things they hadn’t considered or thought about,” he said.
He expects to see modifications from last year’s proposed changes. “We’ll see what the final rule says,” Keane added.
While Keane didn’t explicitly state that the NSSF will be suing over the new rules, if the final language does overstep the AFT’s authority then I expect litigation will be filed fast and furiously, both by 2A organizations and the firearms industry (either as a group or as individual companies).
It also would have been interesting to get a response to Keane’s complaints from one of the gun control activists ABC News interviewed for its story, but I don’t think the network was really looking for a balanced report. ABC News may have done its best to minimize the concerns of law-abiding gun owners, but in my opinion they failed to make the case for Biden’s coming crackdown on “ghost guns.” The best, most effective, and constitutionally-sound way to reduce violent crime remains focusing on violent offenders themselves and not in trying to criminalize our right to keep and bear arms.