President Biden has made regulating “untraceable firearms” a top priority, prompting significant legal challenges and sparking a renewed debate over gun control. These firearms, which can be assembled at home using kits, have become increasingly popular, especially among those who are prohibited from buying traditional firearms. In 2022, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a regulation that expanded the definition of “firearm” in the Gun Control Act of 1968. While the regulation doesn’t ban the sale or possession of components for homemade guns, it does require manufacturers and sellers to obtain licenses, label their products with serial numbers, and conduct background checks. President Biden sees this regulation as a crucial step in his broader initiative to combat illegal weapons and reduce crime.
However, the regulation faces challenges in terms of enforcement, existing loopholes, and ongoing court battles. Despite a lower court ruling against the regulation, the Supreme Court has allowed it to stand temporarily during the ongoing legal challenge. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the situation, including an explanation of untraceable firearms, the simplicity and accessibility of their assembly process, their historical context and prevalence, and their connection to mass shootings.
Untraceable firearms are different from conventional firearms in that they are sold as separate parts that can be assembled at home by unlicensed individuals. Prior to the introduction of federal regulations, acquiring components for these firearms did not require a background check. These components are available as Do-It-Yourself kits online, often referred to as “80 percent receivers” because they are 80 percent complete and require the purchaser to complete the final 20 percent of assembly.
Assembly of untraceable firearms is relatively straightforward and affordable, with kits often including assembly instructions and drill bits. Some kits also include a device called a “jig” that simplifies assembly. There are numerous instructional videos available on platforms like YouTube, which have accumulated millions of views.
While untraceable firearms have been around for some time, their popularity has grown in recent years. They gained attention in 2013 when one was used in a shooting that resulted in multiple deaths. Sales of untraceable firearms increased following that incident. The exact number of these firearms in circulation prior to the regulation is unknown, but data suggests that their prevalence has been increasing, particularly in states with strict firearm regulations.
Law enforcement officials have reported that a significant percentage of firearms recovered at crime scenes in states like California were untraceable firearms. In 2021, the Justice Department reported confiscating a record number of homemade firearms. Advocates for stricter firearm laws argue that action needs to be taken to address the issue before it escalates further.
Untraceable firearms have also been involved in several mass shootings. However, experts suggest that their impact on day-to-day gun violence is of greater concern, particularly in communities of color. Critics of the regulation argue that it has had limited effectiveness in curbing the sale of components used to assemble these firearms since it was implemented through executive action rather than through a legislative statute.
In conclusion, President Biden’s push to regulate untraceable firearms has ignited a legal battle and reignited the gun control debate. The regulation faces challenges in enforcement and loopholes, but its temporary implementation by the Supreme Court indicates that the issue is far from settled. The prevalence of these firearms and their connection to both mass shootings and everyday gun violence have raised concerns, leading to calls for stricter firearm laws and further action to address the issue.