EDITORIAL OF THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Purchased or constructed, the principles for weapons needs to be the identical editorials
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has taken a firm stand when it comes to ghost guns made from do-it-yourself kits or 3D printers. They should be subject to the same regulations as other weapons, including background checks from buyers and the requirement for a serial number.
It is a reasonable position that the Biden government supports in a proposal that is currently under consideration and should be incorporated into law.
In April, President Joe Biden ordered the Department of Justice to develop a rule against ghost rifles, filling a loophole in federal law that allows those buying gun kits to bypass serial number and buyer background check requirements. The proposal, which is now in a 90-day public comment phase, is some kind of weapons reform that almost makes too much sense. Regardless of whether someone is buying a gun or building it at home, a background check should be done and the gun should have a serial number so it can be traced.
Shapiro, who testified before a Senate panel in mid-May to advocate federal regulation of ghost guns, has been on the subject for several years. In 2019, he ordered the state police to treat the unfinished frames and receivers, the components of the weapons, as firearms under state law.
The state police then instructed the arms dealers to carry out background checks on the buyers of the parts.
In January 2020, the Commonwealth Court issued an injunction on the policy, which it described as “unconstitutionally vague,” but Shapiro continued to press the matter. In March of this year, he reached an agreement with the largest organizer of the state arms exhibition to ban the sale of ghost gun kits at its events.
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There are good reasons to be concerned about filling a void in ghost weapon purchases. The Justice Department said around 23,000 guns without serial numbers were recovered from crime scenes by law enforcement, including 325 related to murders or attempted murders.
Shapiro reported to the Senate committee on an alarming increase in the use of ghost guns in Philadelphia, where law enforcement agencies recovered 13 of them in 2018 in connection with a criminal investigation. The number rose to 250 in 2020, and police estimate they will recover more than 600 ghosts, weapons-related crime in the city this year.
Filling the void does not prohibit law-abiding citizens from buying the kits and building a gun at home. It will only require the same enforcement of laws related to other gun purchases. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the proposal is aimed at those who are banned from possessing a weapon but are using the loophole to “avoid detection by law enforcement”.
Tackling the loophole in the ghost weapon will not violate the rights of the second amendment to own firearms. However, it will make it harder for those who are not allowed to own a weapon to obtain one. It’s a decent piece of arms reform that we can all live with.
– The Pittsburgh