BY REBECCA BEITSCH – 08/10/21 01:00 PM EDT
House Judiciary Committee Republicans are pressuring the Biden administration to abandon its plans to regulate so-called ghost guns.
A May rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT) expands the definition of a firearm to include weapons that can be assembled at home, allowing those barred from owning a firearm to skirt background checks.
The assembly kits’ parts also lack a serial number, making it difficult to trace guns that have been used in crimes.
“ATF’s rule appears to be a deliberate attempt to usurp the authority of Congress,” lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill and spearheaded by Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), adding that the rule “unconstitutionally infringed on American citizens’ fundamental Second Amendment rights.”
The proposed rule would expand what qualifies as a firearm, and those selling firearm kits would be required to perform background checks before sales.
Manufacturers and firearm dealers would also be required to “have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.”
“Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement. This proposed rule would help keep guns out of the wrong hands and make it easier for law enforcement to trace guns used to commit violent crimes, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said when it was first proposed in May.
The GOP lawmakers in their letter say the bureau repeatedly seeks to expand the definition of firearms beyond what Congress has allowed, even turning to language from the 1938 Federal Firearms Act.
“This new mandate would greatly expand the statutory requirement that only ‘manufacturers’ and ‘importers’ must mark guns they manufacture or import. To enforce the serialization, ATF seeks to create a new federal crime of obliterating the serial number on a privately made firearm and establish a new category of ‘dealer-gunsmith’ who must mark and record privately made firearms,” they wrote.
“ATF’s proposed regulation creates a new definition to regulate privately made firearms without any statutory authorization from Congress to do so,” they added.
The ATF rule is still under a 90-day comment period.
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