Biden ATF changes rules on "ghost guns"

Biden ATF changes rules on "ghost guns"
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

So-called ghost guns have been treated like the worst threat to peace and tranquility since…well…ever. This despite the actual numbers of such weapons being relatively low.

Earlier this year, the ATF changed the rules surrounding such weapons.

As such, companies that sold unfinished receivers looked at the rules and adjusted accordingly. Anti-gunners were upset, unsurprisingly, but these businesses were following the rules.

Well, now the rules have changed again.

The Biden administration took action Tuesday to close a “ghost gun” loophole following an August rule issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives .

ATF sent an open letter to “all federal firearms licensees” outlining how a number of “partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional” gun kits are now classified as “readily” available weapons, requiring each to carry a serial number and for dealers to run background checks prior to sales.

“Applying the regulatory text of Final Rule 2021-05F, partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, have reached a stage of manufacture where they ‘may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted to a functional frame,'” the letter reads. “This definition of ‘readily’ applies to each and every classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this Rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit. Therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are ‘frames’ and also ‘firearms’ as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations.”

In other words, they figured they weren’t restrictive enough with their previous rule change, so now they’re fixing their own mistake.

And screw you if you have a problem with it.

Well, I’ve got a problem with it. Especially in light of a federal ruling out of West Virginia. In that case, the judge used the standard set down in Bruen to determine that bans on obliterated serial numbers were unconstitutional.

In light of that, and assuming such a ruling is upheld by higher courts, it’s difficult to imagine that such a restriction on something that isn’t even a firearm yet would be held as constitutional.

Unfortunately, that will take legal action, and thus far there hasn’t been a lot of time for such action to begin. After the first of the year, I expect a number of organizations to begin their challenges to this new rule, and I hope they make the ATF hurt over this one.

In the meantime, a lot of people are holding inventory that they can’t actually move as things currently stand. They can’t lawfully sell those at all.

Meanwhile, those who want to build their own handguns will just pony up for a 3D printer and continue to avoid all of this nonsense.

That’s right. All of this and they still haven’t managed to prevent people from building their own firearms. That’s a good thing, mind you, but it also shows you how little the ATF apparently understand what they’re trying to regulate.

Then again, it’s the ATF. This shouldn’t be surprising.