US President Joe Biden pledged during his election campaign to slap a new ban on “assault weapons”, but since taking office, his Democratic Party has focused on the sale of unfinished firearm receivers to enthusiasts building their own guns.
Attorneys general of a score of US states have kicked off a legal challenge to “unconstitutional” federal plans to ban so-called “ghost guns”.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and his Arizona counterpart Mark Brnovich led 20 Republican Party-governed states in issuing an official “comments” document opposing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposals to regulate the sale of firearms components.
“Private individuals and businesses have the right to assemble firearms for their own use — a fact borne out in early American history and expressly recognized by the Gun Control Act”, the document read.
“The Second Amendment is a core tenant of our Constitution, and this regulation would treat the activity of assembling firearm parts as a problem to be stamped out, rather than a right and tradition to be respected”.
In an echo of the 1994 federal ban on “assault weapons“, President Joe Biden’s new government has embarked on a crusade against citizens assembling guns from purchased parts, arguing that the lack of a factory serial number on such a weapon would make it impossible to trace if it were used in a crime.
The administration wants to ban the sale of partially-finished frames and receivers, dubbed “80 percent receivers”, without the background checks and record-keeping used for complete firearms.
Existing law already dictates that manufacturers of firearms frames or receivers — the body of a rifle or repeating shotgun — must be licenced by the ATF and mark their products with a unique serial number. However, many modern weapons have two-part receivers, and components such as barrels and bolts are readily interchangeable between mass-produced guns of the same basic model.
Forensic ballistics relies on matching marks left by the barrel and other parts on the fired bullet and ejected cartridge case to match a suspect’s weapon to a crime.
The statement argued that the planned rule changes would outlaw a long-standing practice of gun owners customising their weapons, and said they would hand powers reserved by the legislature to the bureau.
“By allowing ATF to decide for itself which firearms it will regulate, unconstrained by Congress’s guidance, the proposed rule is unconstitutional”, the 20 states’ top legal officials wrote.
The other states named in the document are Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Carolina, and South Dakota.