Biden aims at ‘ghost gun’ violence with new federal rule
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday took fresh aim at ghost guns, the privately made firearms without serial numbers that are increasingly cropping up in violent crimes, as he struggles to break past gun-control opposition to address firearm deaths.
Speaking at the White House, Biden highlighted the Justice Department’s work to finalize new regulations to crack down on ghost guns, and announced the nomination of Steve Dettelbach, who served as a U.S. attorney in Ohio from 2009 to 2016, to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Law enforcement is sounding the alarm,” Biden said of ghost guns, briefly holding one up for cameras to see in the Rose Garden. “Our communities are paying the price.”
He promised the new regulations would save lives.
Still, the announcement on guns highlights the limits of Biden’s influence to push a sweeping congressional overhaul of the nation’s firearm laws in response to both a recent surge in violent crime and continued mass shootings. Congress has deadlocked on legislative proposals to reform gun laws for a decade, and executive actions have faced stiff headwinds in federal courts — even as the Democratic base has grown more vocal in calling on Biden to take more consequential action.
Dettelbach’s confirmation, too, is likely to be an uphill battle. Biden had to withdraw the nomination of his first ATF nominee, gun-control advocate David Chipman, after it stalled for months because of opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in the Senate.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to get nominees for the ATF position through the politically fraught process since the director’s position was made confirmable in 2006. Since then, only one nominee, former U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, has been confirmed. Jones made it through the Senate in 2013 but only after a six-month struggle. Jones was acting director when President Barack Obama nominated him in January 2013.
The Biden administration’s plan on guns was first reported by Politico.
For nearly a year, the ghost gun rule has been making its way through the federal regulation process. Gun safety groups and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for the Justice Department to finish the rule for months. It will probably be met with heavy resistance from gun groups and draw litigation in the coming weeks.
Gun Owners of America vowed that it would immediately fight the rule.
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