AG Shapiro Leads Coalition of AGs to Close the ‘Ghost Gun’ Loophole

Josh ShapiroCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week announced he’s co-leading an amicus brief in support of federal action that would close a loophole that lets violent criminals, and other people who can’t legally purchase firearms, to buy ghost guns. Ghost guns are unserialized guns, often made at home from weapon parts or kits that can be purchased without a background check and easily made into a functioning gun. The new federal rules ensure that the weapon parts and kits used to make ghost guns are subject to the same regulations that apply to any other gun. AG Shapiro is joined on the amicus brief by 19 other Attorneys General.

The new federal rule would help ensure that buyers pass background checks before purchasing these gun kits and that law enforcement officers can trace any self-made guns that are later used in a crime. The rule would also limit gun traffickers’ ability to distribute these dangerous weapons in Pennsylvania.

“I’ve long been sounding the alarm on ghost guns and how they’re becoming the weapon of choice for criminals,” said AG Shapiro. “For years convicted felons, violent drug dealers, have all been able to buy these guns at gun shows without a background check. With these new federal regulations, we are making it harder for gun kits to end up in the hands of criminals and easier for law enforcement to track crime guns in their investigations. All this helps make Pennsylvania communities safer.”

In recent years, Pennsylvania has seen an exponential increase in the number of ghost guns recovered by law enforcement. Absent federal enforcement, these dangerous weapons have continued to proliferate, including in states that have tried to regulate ghost guns themselves.

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The ATF’s Final Rule regulates ghost guns by clarifying critical definitions in the Gun Control Act. Specifically, the Final Rule makes it clear that weapon parts, kits, and partially complete frames or receivers are firearms under the Act. With this clarification, the Final Rule helps ensure that gun kits and partially complete frames or receivers are subject to the same serialization and background check requirements as conventionally manufactured guns. This helps close a loophole in firearms regulation that enabled people to evade existing gun laws and get their hands on dangerous untraceable weapons.

A copy of the brief is available online. The brief was led by AG Shapiro and the Attorneys General of New Jersey and Washington, DC. The brief was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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