Biden to appoint new ATF director, release ghost gun rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden appoints an Obama-era U.S. attorney to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as his administration unveils its official rule to limit guns Ghost firearms, privately made firearms without serial numbers that are increasingly showing up at crime scenes, six people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Biden is expected to make the announcement of the nomination of Steve Dettlebach, who served as a U.S. attorney in Ohio from 2009 to 2016, at the White House on Monday, the people said. They were not authorized to discuss the nomination publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The administration will also release the finalized version of its phantom gun rule, which comes as the White House and Justice Department come under increasing pressure to crack down on gun deaths and violent crimes in the United States.

Dettlebach’s confirmation will likely be an uphill battle for the Biden administration. Biden had to withdraw the nomination of its top ATF nominee, gun control lawyer David Chipman, after the nomination was blocked for months due to opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in the Senate.

Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to secure candidates for the ATF position through a politically charged process since the directorship was confirmed in 2006. Since then, only one candidate, the former U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, was confirmed. Jones moved to the Senate in 2013, but only after a six-month struggle. Jones was acting director when President Barack Obama appointed him in January 2013.

The Biden administration’s plan was first reported by Politico.

For nearly a year, the ghost gun rule has been catching on through the federal regulatory process. Gun safety groups and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for months for the Justice Department to end the rule. It is likely to meet strong resistance from armed groups and lead to litigation in the coming weeks.

On Sunday, the Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, implored the administration to act faster.

“It is high time for a ghost gun exorcism before the proliferation peaks and more people are harmed – or worse,” Schumer said in a statement. “My message is simple: no more waiting for these proposed federal rules.” Ghost Guns are “too easy to build, too difficult to trace, and too dangerous to ignore”.

Statistics from the Department of Justice show nearly 24,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement from crime scenes and reported to the government from 2016 to 2020. It’s hard to say how many are circulating on the streets, in part because in many cases the police do not. Do not contact the government about the weapons as they cannot be found.

The rule is expected to change the current definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts, such as the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun.

In its proposed rule released last May, the ATF said it also seeks to require manufacturers and dealers who sell ghost gun parts to be federally licensed and to require dealers of Federally licensed firearms add a serial number to all non-serialized firearms they plan to sell. to sell.

The rule would also require gun dealers to conduct background checks before selling ghost gun kits containing the parts needed to assemble a gun.

For years, federal authorities have been sounding the alarm over the rise of the black market in homemade military-style rifles and semi-automatic handguns. In addition to appearing more frequently at crime scenes, ghost guns are increasingly encountered when federal agents purchase firearms as part of undercover operations from gang members and other criminals. .

Some states, such as California, have enacted laws in recent years to require serial numbers to be stamped on ghost guns.

The essential component in the construction of an untraceable pistol is what is known as the lower receiver, a part usually made of metal or polymer. An unfinished receiver – sometimes referred to as an “80% receiver” – can be purchased legally online with no serial number or other markings, no license required.

Police across the country have reported spikes of ghost guns recovered by officers. The New York Police Department, for example, said officers have found 131 firearms without serial numbers since January.

A gunman who killed his wife and four others in Northern California in 2017 had been banned from owning firearms, but built his own to circumvent a court order before his rampage. And in 2019, a teenager used a homemade handgun to kill two classmates and injure three others at a school in suburban Los Angeles.

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