BOSTON (State House News Service) — With a Texas gun parts manufacturer challenging the Biden administration's new rule regulating "ghost guns," Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 20 top state prosecutors in supporting the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to regulate the sale of the currently untraceable guns.
Healey signed on to a brief filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas supporting the final rule issued by the ATF in April that would give law enforcement the ability to trace "ghost guns" and prevent unqualified individuals from purchasing parts to make their own weapons.
Ghost guns are firearms that typically are built by someone other than a manufacturer that generally do not have serial numbers and are not traceable in the same way that a legally-purchased gun would be. Ghost guns can be built using parts legally sold in kits by firearm manufacturers and dealers, or from parts created by a 3D printer using templates available online.
The ATF rule would treat guns parts the same as fully manufactured firearms, requiring manufacturers and dealers of ghost gun building blocks to be federally licensed and the parts marked with serial numbers. Purchasers would also have to pass a background check before being allow to buy a self-build kit.
"Ghost guns pose a serious threat to the safety of our residents – they're untraceable and often made from easily accessible household items, allowing dangerous individuals to circumvent our laws," Healey said in a statement. "My office has prioritized working with our law enforcement partners to get these guns off our streets. This important rule put forward by the Biden Administration will require compliance with laws that require serial numbers and critical background checks."
The ATF rule has been challenged by Galveston, Texas firearms parts manufacturer, with the plaintiff represented by a legal team that includes Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and acting ATF director who is now a partner at Ashcroft Law Firm in Boston.
The attorneys general, in their brief, said at least 14 jurisdictions have enacted their own laws regulating weapon part kits, but argued that without federal enforcement ghost guns will continue to find their way into circulation.
Reps. David Linsky and Marjorie Decker filed bills this session to improve the state's ability to control the sale of ghost guns, and those bills are currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means after being redrafted into a single bill and recommended by the Joint Committee on Public Safety.
Written by Matt Murphy/SHNS