Ghost gun rule won’t do much good, but it also won’t do any harm

This week, President Joe Biden announced new measures to track the sale of “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms made from do-it-yourself kits. The new Justice Department rule will require such kits to be produced by licensed manufacturers, and will require purchasers to pass a background check. This is a reasonable gun control step that will undoubtedly face unreasonable responses. We strongly support Second Amendment rights, and we expect that this won’t make a dramatic difference in gun violence, despite Biden’s most earnest wishes. Violent people will still commit crimes with legal firearms. And criminals bent on breaking laws won’t be dissuaded by yet more laws around certain kinds of guns. But the law is more than symbolic. It matters what kind of behavior we condemn and what kind of barriers we erect. If this rule makes it more of a hassle to order “buy build shoot” kits, it’s reasonable to think that fewer people will take that step. More importantly, fewer untraceable guns will make it easier for police to investigate offenders. There is no good reason to have easy access to untraceable weapons or to make it harder on law enforcement to do its job. That undermines an important defense of gun ownership, that law-abiding people have a right to self-defense. The ghost gun market appears to be growing. According to statistics released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, law enforcement agencies recovered about 20,000 suspected ghost guns last year, a tenfold increase from just six […]

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