By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.
Gun-violence prevention advocates in Nevada are applauding a new rule by the Biden administration to close a loophole allowing the proliferation of untraceable so-called “ghost guns.”
Kits of unfinished gun parts will soon have to carry a serial number, buyers will have to pass a background check and sellers will need a license.
Amber Falgout, northern Nevada manager for the group Battle Born Progress, said until now, anyone could buy the parts online, including those who are too young, have disqualifying criminal convictions or have a history of severe mental illness.
“The ghost guns really opened up,” Falgout explained. “Almost like an underground market of people being able to purchase un-serialized unregulated firearms without any types of checks and balances.”
In 2021, law enforcement recovered about 20,000 suspected ghost guns during criminal investigations, a tenfold increase from 2016, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
David Pucino, deputy chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center, testified last year in favor of Nevada’s new ghost gun law, Assembly Bill 286, which banned the sale of un-serialized gun parts in the state and required existing weapons to receive a serial number before being resold. In December, a judge blocked the ban on sales, saying the federal definition of a firearm was too vague.
“Once this federal rule goes into effect, my belief is the portion of the law that had been blocked becomes moot,” Pucino contended. “Because the federal government is doing that work anyway.”
Pucino added the ruling will not affect the sale of gun parts to people who build guns as a hobby.
“Now the question is going to be are these companies going to still offer this product now that they have to comply with the laws surrounding guns,” Pucino stated. “I think it’s going to be a real test. Was demand driven by hobbyists, or was this driven by folks who did not want to comply with the laws.”