- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2022

President Biden’s planned crackdown on “ghost guns” received vocal pushback Monday from GOP lawmakers who said it will have little impact on crime and treads on the Second Amendment.

“Biden’s gun grab is coming,” the House Judiciary Committee tweeted Monday in a snapshot of GOP messaging on the effort the president will announce at the White House along with his nomination of Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Justice Department will publish a final rule on ghost guns — untraceable weapons made from kits — that would classify the components used to make them as firearms requiring serial numbers to aid in tracking them.

Specifically, the rule targets “buy build shoot” kits that people can purchase online or at a store without a background check and “can readily assemble into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes with equipment they have at home,” a White House fact sheet said.

Under the new rule, manufacturers who sell the kits would need to be licensed and would be required to run background checks on potential buyers of the kits.

Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican and a vocal advocate for gun owners, said Mr. Biden is trying to exercise powers he doesn’t possess.

SEE ALSO: Biden to issue final rule regulating ‘ghost guns,’ nominate new ATF director

“The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This [is] a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 (literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution) says Congress makes law, not POTUS!” Mr. Massie tweeted.

The White House said about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations last year, a 10-fold increase from 2016. It said the proliferation is making it difficult for investigators to trace guns as violent crime is at or near record levels in many cities across the U.S. 

Mr. Biden’s job approval ratings have plummeted as voters increasingly express concern about issues such as inflation and crime. Last week, Maryland joined Washington, D.C., and 10 other states in curbing or banning the use of ghost guns.

Republicans say Mr. Biden’s federal effort is a distraction that will not rein in crime.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has cited data from the ATF and the FBI that indicate “ghost guns” were used in less than 0.36% of homicides between 2016 and 2020. He also has said the Justice Department’s statistics show that just 7% of firearms used in a crime are acquired from legal firearms dealers.

The clash over the new rule will unfold alongside Mr. Biden’s push to get his nominee for the ATF through the evenly divided Senate.

The White House said Mr. Dettelbach is a “highly respected” career prosecutor who in 2009 was unanimously confirmed for his position as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“He has a proven track record of working with federal, state, and local law enforcement to fight violent crime and combat domestic violent extremism and religious violence – including through partnerships with the ATF to prosecute complex cases and take down violent criminal gangs,” the White House said in a fact sheet. “His leadership and his record of innovation in fighting crime and violence make him ready from day one to aggressively and creatively address these pressing issues as the director of ATF.”

Mr. Biden had to withdraw his previous ATF nominee, David Chipman, last year after it became clear he could not secure votes from all 50 Democratic senators.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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