firearms growing in popularity among white supremacy groups
D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today led a letter along with Sens.
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal
(D-Conn.) urging President Joe Biden to take executive action to close the
“ghost gun” loophole in the Gun Control Act, which
allows individuals—including domestic abusers, prohibited buyers, gun
traffickers, and domestic terrorists—to buy untraceable, unserialized firearms
without a federal background check. Cities across America have seen a
spike in ghost-gun-related crimes. These DIY firearms have also grown in
popularity among white supremacy groups.
ease with which these kits and parts can be purchased and assembled into a
fully functioning firearm, the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives] ATF does not regulate these ghost-gun building blocks as firearms,”
the senators wrote. “This dangerous loophole undermines federal and
state laws, hampers the ability of law enforcement to investigate and solve
firearm crimes, and presents a real threat to the public.”
Ghost gun kits
can be easily purchased online and assembled at home, making it more difficult
to regulate these dangerous weapons. Individuals can buy an AR-15 kit online
for as little as $345 and Glock-type pistol kits for $400.
While the use
of ghost guns in crimes has spiked in cities across the country, “[e]ven more
troubling is the rise in ghost-gun popularity among white supremacists,” the
senators wrote. “In January 2020, authorities arrested three members of a
white supremacist group who planned to travel to attend a gun-rights rally in
Virginia and attempt to start a civil war. One member of the group made an
AR-15 using parts and a jig widely available online.”
said it is imperative that the Executive Branch take action and cited several
bills they introduced in the last Congress that they intend to move forward to
address ghost guns, including the Stopping the Traffic in Overseas Proliferation
of Ghost Guns Act, the Untraceable Firearms Act, and the 3D Printed Gun Safety
We write to
ask that you take executive action to keep unserialized and untraceable
firearms known as “ghost guns” off our streets. Specifically, we request that
you immediately direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
(ATF) to regulate these firearms under the Gun Control Act and ensure that they
are subject to a background check. Additionally, the ATF should collect data on
when ghost guns are used in crimes and publicly release that information.
are untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home. Ghost
gun kits enable prohibited purchasers, domestic abusers, and gun traffickers to
obtain a firearm without background check. Research from
Everytown for Gun Safety found AR-15 build kits and a lower receiver — which
houses the trigger parts and magazine, and attaches to other parts of a
semi-automatic rifle — for as little as $345.19, and kits for making Glock-type
pistol kits with a frame — which provides the basic bottom outline of a gun — for
as little as $400.20.” Despite the ease with which
these kits and parts can be purchased and assembled into a fully functioning
firearm, the ATF does not regulate these ghost-gun building blocks as firearms.
dangerous loophole undermines federal and state laws, hampers the ability of
law enforcement to investigate and solve firearm crimes, and presents a real
threat to the public. Additionally, law
enforcement and policymakers lack a full set of data on ghost guns. When FBI
Director Chris Wray appeared before Congress in February 2020, he acknowledged
growing concern over ghost guns but was unable to provide any statistics about
their prevalence. Having this data would allow policymakers,
researchers, and law enforcement to better combat the growing threat of ghost
troubling is the rise in ghost-gun popularity among white supremacists.
In January 2020, authorities arrested three members of a white supremacist
group who planned to travel to attend a gun-rights rally in Virginia and
attempt to start a civil war. One member of the group made
an AR-15 using parts and a jig widely available online. In
the last few years, major cities across the United States witnessed a spike in
ghost-gun-related crimes. For example, in 2017 the District of Columbia
recovered three such weapons; in 2018 that number jumped to 116.
In Los Angeles, the police department recovered more than 600 ghost guns in
2020; of those, 145 were recovered from felons who are prohibited from owning
or possessing firearms. According to reporting from
May 2019, 30 percent of all guns now recovered by ATF agents in California are
unserialized. Facing this scourge, Chicago, San Jose,
Columbia (South Carolina), and Syracuse sued the ATF in August 2020 demanding
that the Bureau correctly interpret the Gun Control Act.
the Gun Violence Archive, at least 19,233 Americans lost their lives to gun
violence in 2020, the highest number in the last two decades.
We fear the number will only increase without swift action on ghost guns.
Recognizing this threat, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California,
Washington State, Massachusetts, Virginia, and the District of Columbia enacted
legislation to ban or regulate ghost guns. During the 116th
Congress, we introduced several bills to address ghost guns, including the
Stopping the Traffic in Overseas Proliferation of Ghost Guns Act, the
Untraceable Firearms Act, and the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act. As we work to pass
these important pieces of legislation, it is imperative that the Executive
Branch take action.
for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to working
with you on solutions that will strengthen public safety and keep guns out of
the hands of dangerous individuals.
What Are Ghost Guns?
, Brady, https://www.bradyunited.org/fact-sheets/what-are-ghost-guns.
Alain Stephens, They Planned to Start a Race War. DIY Gun Kits Allowed Them
to Build an Arsenal
, The Trace (Jan. 23, 2020), https://www.thetrace.org/2020/01/white-supremacists-the-base-fbi-virginia-diy-ghost-gun/?utm_source=The+Trace+mailing+list&utm_campaign=4426d2c5b4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_09_24_04_06_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f76c3ff31c-4426d2c5b4-112434029.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro, 2020 Was A Record-Breaking Year For
Gun-Related Deaths In The U.S.,
(Jan. 23, 2021),
https://www.npr.org/2021/01/03/952969760/2020-was-a-record-breaking-year-for-gun-related-deaths-in-the-u-s#:~:text=On%20the%20last%20day%20of,killed%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=According%20to%20the%20Gun%20Violence,jump%20from%20the%20year%20before; Josiah Bates, 2020 Will End As One of America’s
Most Violent Years in Decades, Time
(Dec. 30, 2020),