Biden’s Rule on Ghost Guns

The Department of Justice is finalizing a rule that would make it illegal to manufacture ghost guns without a serial number.

Stephen Webber
Leans Right
Jonathan Good
Leans Left

On Monday, President Biden announced the Department of Justice is finalizing a rule that would make it illegal to manufacture ghost guns without a serial number.

Ghost guns are firearms that are privately manufactured by businesses or individuals using blueprints of gun components, such as receivers and barrels. Receivers are the portion of the gun that all other parts attach to, legally making it the “gun.” Blueprints for receivers, or partially completed receivers, are openly available for private citizens to make using 3D printers. These 3D-printed parts are untraceable by the government because they can be made from home without a federally licensed firearm dealer performing a background check.

The rise of ghost guns and 3D-printed gun parts has become a recent concern for gun control advocates who see their prevalence as a threat to public safety. In 2019, the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act was introduced in the 116th Congress but failed to pass the committee stage. The Act would make it illegal to publish online instructions on programming a 3D printer to create a fully operational firearm. Opponents of the law expressed concern that the level of enforcement required to prevent these online postings could infringe on the First and Second Amendments. Years ago, the FBI reviewed The Anarchist Cookbook, a book explaining bombmaking, and ruled it is constitutionally protected speech. This precedent would likely lead to the overturning of the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) recently redefined ghost guns to encompass all privately made firearms. In other words, ghost guns are firearms that cannot be traced by the federal government, allowing prohibited buyers to purchase guns from private sellers. The ATF would potentially require makers of privately made firearms to be licensed and register their weapons after production. However, the provisions rely on law-abiding citizens to act responsibly and follow the rules. There is no explicit method for tracking the production of ghost guns.

The Biden administration’s executive order would mandate that ghost guns be serialized to be considered legal. The White House and the Justice Department argue that regulating the firearms parts and requiring dealers to stamp serial numbers on ghost guns will help drive down violent crime and aid investigators in solving crimes. However, pro-gun groups argue that the President is acting outside his authority; rules on ghost guns should come from Congress, not the President; and the new regulation violates the patchwork of existing gun laws.

Left Narrative

As technology becomes increasingly advanced, American gun regulations must adapt alongside it. President Biden’s rule targeting ghost guns is common sense. Allowing anyone to manufacture firearms — including those who cannot legally buy them — endangers everyone. While regulating ghost guns may be complicated, we cannot simply throw our hands up. We must take concrete steps to ensure these weapons cannot fall into the hands of dangerous people. Regulations like this one are constitutional, lifesaving measures, and the President should continue to use executive action to prevent the scourge of gun violence that has ravaged America for decades.

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

The Biden administration is overreaching its executive authority to create a rule that should be legislated by Congress. Also, the rule does not explain how the government will enforce the rule. In reality, individuals will not report they have created a homemade firearm, and it is ridiculous to assume they will. This new rule is part of a larger movement by Democrats to outlaw guns altogether by creating a federal registry of gun owners. Those on the Right who fear a tyrannical government would go further to say the tracking of gun ownership will eventually target owners with a mandatory buyback.

Questions & Answers

Reading Comprehension

Have your students take a reading comprehension quiz to see how well they understood the article and different opinions.

Launch Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you prevent someone from making a ghost gun?
  2. Does preventing people from making ghost guns potentially infringe on individual rights? Why or why not?
  3. Do people have a First Amendment right to post ghost gun blueprints online?
  4. Is the President overreaching his executive authority?
  5. What is an appropriate balance between individual freedom and public safety in response to ghost guns?

Current Events in this story

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Accompanying Content

Biden administration gets tough on ‘ghost guns’

The Biden administration’s Domestic Policy Advisor, Susan Rice, joins MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the recent rule targeting ghost guns.

Apr 11, 2022
Newsmax (Online News)
NRA Slams New Biden Ghost Gun Regulation: Not ‘Sincere’

The National Rifle Association condemns the upcoming Biden administration rule to crack down on “ghost guns.”

Apr 11, 2022
The Daily Caller
Tucker Carlson Says Biden’s New ‘Ghost Gun’ Rules Aims To ‘Disarm’ Anyone Who Doesn’t Vote Democrat

Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson said Monday that President Joe Biden’s new “ghost gun” rule aims to “disarm” anyone who does not vote Democrat.

Apr 11, 2022
Associated Press
Biden unveils new rule to crack down on ghost guns

President Biden addresses the Justice Department’s new rule targeting ghost guns and some of his administration’s rationale for implementing these regulations.

Apr 11, 2022

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