House Judiciary Committee Members Ask ATF to Address Surging Sales of Untraceable, DIY Ghost Gun Parts Due to Pandemic Panic-Buying
Untraceable “Ghost Guns” Can Be Purchased Online With No Background Check, Thanks to ATF’s Failure to Regulate
Everytown has Formally Urged ATF to Act to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Violent Criminals, Gun Traffickers, and Minors
NEW YORK — Yesterday, Members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to seek answers regarding the measures the agency has undertaken to address the surge in ghost guns sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter was first reported by Newsweek.
“Thanks to pandemic panic-buying, ghost gun kits are flying off the shelves — and without action from the ATF, they can be delivered right to the front door of a convicted domestic abuser, gun trafficker, or minor with no background check, no questions asked,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud these Members of the House Judiciary Committee for stepping up and demanding answers from the ATF. Now, it’s time for the ATF to do its job and regulate the sale of these untraceable guns before they cause any more deaths.”
The rise of ghost guns is one of the country’s fastest-growing gun safety problems. These do-it-yourself firearms are made from parts available without a background check and are predictably emerging as a weapon of choice for violent criminals, gun traffickers, dangerous extremists, and, generally, people legally prohibited from buying firearms.
In December, Everytown for Gun Safety called on the ATF to use its existing power to clarify that ghost gun parts should be regulated like firearms and thus subject to a background check. The letter from Members of the House Judiciary Committee makes clear that “Federal gun laws are intended to encompass frames or receivers that can be readily converted into function firearms, but because the ATF does not define or regulate unfinished receivers and frames as firearms, purchasers are not required to undergo a background check to obtain them.” Across the country, states like California, New Jersey, and Connecticut have taken action to quell the threat of ghost guns — but a broad action from the ATF would provide a national solution.
At the end of March, the Trump administration released guidance advising states to consider the gun industry essential alongside first responders, medical workers, 911 call center employees, and more. This decision by the Trump administration comes at a time when the country has seen a historic surge in gun sales, which has made the Charleston loophole even deadlier during the pandemic and has increased the risks of unintentional gun violence, domestic violence, and gun suicide. Everytown and Moms Demand Action have created a factsheet to underline the increased dangers of the Charleston loophole during the pandemic, and also launched a petition demanding that this administration prioritize public health over the gun industry’s lobbying for special treatment. The petition has now reached more than 100,000 signatures.