Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Department of Justice to address the proliferation of ghost guns. The announcement, made at a bipartisan press conference in Syracuse today, echoes a petition for rulemaking filed by Everytown for Gun Safety. Senator Schumer was joined at the press conference by the Republican Onondaga County District Attorney and prominent law enforcement officials. Everytown experts on ghost guns are available for interviews.
In December, Everytown for Gun Safety filed a petition for rulemaking to call 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. 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 could provide a national solution.
State officials throughout the northeast are making ghost guns a priority issue. In December, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro declared that the building blocks for ghost guns are considered firearms under Pennsylvania law and should be regulated as such. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed more restrictions on ghost guns in January. This month, ghost guns bills are making their way through the legislature in Rhode Island and Delaware.
Ghost guns are also emerging as a disturbingly easy source of firepower for extremist groups, like the white supremacist group The Base. In January, the FBI arrested three members of The Base who were allegedly planning to start a race war at the gun extremist rally in Richmond, VA. The FBI’s investigation revealed that at least one weapon in their arsenal was a ghost gun.
That was just one link in the chain connecting white supremacist groups to the ghost gun industry. Cody Wilson –– the man at the forefront of the downloadable gun movement, a registered sex-offender, and “self-described anarchist” — was called a “brother in arms” by The Daily Stormer for his work to facilitate online donations to those espousing hate.
Senator Schumer has been a gun safety champion throughout his career, including leading efforts to prevent the threat of undetectable firearms. Senator Schumer fought to strengthen and extend the Undetectable Firearms Act which requires that firearms contain a metal component that can be detected by a metal detector. Most recently, Senator Schumer has led efforts to prevent the spread of downloadable gun schematics which enable individuals with a 3D printer to create a plastic firearm without a background check.