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What makes a gun a ghost gun?

New rules proposed by the Biden administration look to curb the ready availability of unregistered firearms without the usual background check requirements.

Who supports the regulation of ghost guns?
Anadolu AgencyGetty

In the aftermath of the horrifying attack on a Brooklyn subway train on Tuesday, one Fox News contributor took the opportunity to question President Biden’s decision to impose tougher regulations on so-called ‘ghost guns’.

Brian Kilmeade made the bizarre claim that Biden’s attempt to crackdown on the home-made or unregulated firearms was “an insult” to law enforcement officials.

“Most of our audience could get a ghost gun, and not have it registered. But you’re not going to be killing anybody. The problem is the criminal mind, and the punishment that they know is not coming,” Kilmeade said.

There is no indication on whether the weapon used to shoot at least ten people in a busy subway carriage was indeed a ghost gun, but Kilmeade’s comments underscore a reluctance from some sections of the media to condone any type of gun regulation; even in the face of the horrifying realities.

What is a ghost gun?

Ghost guns, unregistered and untraceable homemade weapons, have become increasingly commonplace with the rise of 3D printers. They can even be bought online in the form of a kit, offering a way for would-be gun owners to evade the usual checks and regulations that usually accompany gun ownership.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has found that ghost guns are contributing to a rise in gun violence across the United States, with countless websites offering everything from handguns to AK-47s.

As part of an investigation into the black market firearms, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans was able to purchase a Glock 9mm handgun with no background check or waiting period. Existing laws also require firearms manufacturers to include serial numbers on weapons to aid with tracking efforts. Ghost guns evade this regulation.

Speaking in 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva outlined the danger of these types of weapons: “If you’re a felon or judged mentally unfit, for example, federal law says you’re not supposed to have any kind of firearm. Build a ghost gun? No one knows you have it.

Biden implements pushes for new restrictions to tackle rise in gun crime

On Monday the Department of Justice submitted a request to the Federal Register to introduce a new law specifically designed to curb the availability of ghost guns. The rule would not explicitly ban ghost guns, but would bring them in line with the regulations currently governing mass-produced firearms.

Under the rules, even ghost guns will be required to have a serial number on the frame or receiver of the weapon and kits will have to be produced by licensed manufacturers. Like with other firearms, buyers will need to complete a background check before being able to purchase the weapon.

Federally-licensed gun retailers will have to maintain a record of the gun for the duration of the license, ensuring that it is easier to keep track of where they are and who is in possession. This should also help with the identification of a suspect if a crime is committed.