Vermont Legislature Passes New 'Ghost Gun' Bill

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

There's no doubt whatsoever that media hysteria can drive legislation. We've seen it all too often, even if the media likely creates the circumstances that supposedly support that hysteria.


For example, so-called ghost guns weren't really a thing on most people's radar for years. Even after incomplete receivers were common enough and easily obtained, most bad guys didn't know anything about them until the media and anti-gun politicians started bleating about them.

As a result, criminals found a new business opportunity and then those firearms being recovered by law enforcement gets pushed out to the press to justify the alarm.

And states like Vermont just lean into the hysteria.

The Vermont House approved a bill Wednesday that would require firearms that are privately made from individual parts, kits or by 3D printers to have serial numbers in an effort to crack down on so-called ghost guns, which are increasingly being used in crimes.

Supporters of the measure in the Democratic-controlled Legislature say it’s critical for Vermont to keep the weapons out of the hands of people who aren’t allowed to have firearms. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to take up a Biden administration appeal over the regulation of the difficult-to-trace ghost guns.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a rule in place that prohibits guns and gun components from lacking serial numbers, but the rule’s legality is being challenged and it might be overturned, state Rep. Angela Arsenault told House colleagues last week.

“As a legislative body we have no such restrictions and since this rule may be struck down we need to act now to keep these protections in place,” she said.

The Vermont bill includes penalties ranging from fines as low as $50 to prison time depending on the offense. A person who carries a firearm that lacks a serial number while committing a violent crime would face up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott thinks the bill is moving in the right direction, “but doesn’t think most parts will actually have any real impact given the difficulty of enforcement of possession,” his spokesman, Jason Maulucci, said by email.


Well, Scott is half right. It's not moving in the right direction by any stretch of the imagination, but he's right about how little impact it will actually have.

The problem with even the ATF's rule is that it really only hammers on kits. You can still buy individual parts, as you should. These are generally replacement parts for your own, traditionally built firearms, but are also used by those assembling their own firearms. Without a kit, you just have to buy components individually.

Vermont isn't likely to be able to actually prevent this no matter what they pass, so criminals will still be buying components and building guns for illegal sale.

Yet the key thing to remember is that these guns also only account for a small portion of the firearms recovered by law enforcement. Most criminals still get traditionally made firearms. They're not picky and there are a lot more of those on the black market compared to "ghost guns."

So what we have is a measure that accomplishes absolutely nothing except try to end a practice that many law-abiding citizens do for their own enjoyment.


But when you buy into media-built hysteria, what can you expect?


Join the conversation as a VIP Member