In Brief: Beware Biden’s Ghost-Gun Protocol
“Anyone who wishes to avoid the imposition of yet another federal fence around their rights should be watching.”
Charles C.W. Cooke, who often writes about gun issues for the NRA, has a column explaining what “ghost guns” are and why President Joe Biden is suddenly targeting them with executive orders.
Since before the United States existed as an independent nation, Americans have been making firearms at home. If President Biden’s proposed limitations on “ghost guns” take the form that the gun-control movement hopes they will, this centuries-long practice will soon be brought to a close. Anyone who wishes to avoid the imposition of yet another federal fence around their rights should be watching this development with apprehension.
The gun-control group Everytown describes a “ghost gun” as a “a do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get, unregulated building blocks … made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer.” And, naturally, it wants them controlled. “Federal authorities,” its website declares, “must act to ensure that the core parts for ghost guns are defined as firearms and properly regulated.” Thus far, Biden has been focused on the “building blocks” part of this argument, having promised to do something about the “kits” that, he says, contain “nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm.” And yet, as Everytown makes clear, that amateur gun-builders can obtain “core parts” without a background check is only half of the objection here. The other half rests on the mere existence of “fully functioning, untraceable firearms” — a “problem” that can be meaningfully “solved” only by outlawing homemade guns in toto.
Cooke explains how federal regulations currently work regarding what’s considered a “gun” by the ATF, and then asks questions about how those rules can or should be amended.
Biden’s essential problem is that he is attempting to use a set of federal laws that were passed solely to regulate commerce as a pretext to regulate noncommercial activity. The 1968 Gun Control Act, on which the ATF’s rules are primarily based, makes no mention of homemade weapons beyond noting that its terms apply only to those who are “engaged in the business” of manufacturing and selling firearms. As it stands, Americans who wish to manufacture weapons for sale or distribution need to obtain a federal license before they may do so, while those who are engaged in noncommercial production that affects nobody outside of themselves are permitted to do as they wish — yes, even if they buy key materials from commercial dealers across state lines. Writing in the Times recently, Gail Collins asked “how the founding fathers would have felt about the right to bear arms if they knew their nastiest neighbor had just installed a printer that manufactures guns in his basement.” But we know how they felt about forging firearms — and, indeed, we know how subsequent generations felt about it — because for all of American history has it been legal to do precisely that. It still is today.
And the problem is that, for the Left, no regulation is ever “enough.”
- gun control
- Second Amendment
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