President Joe Biden unveiled a new rule to rein in so-called ghost guns and ban the manufacturing of untraceable firearms on Monday as the administration faces growing pressure to crack down on gun deaths and violent crime in the United States.
Ghost guns are privately made firearms that are not marked with a serial number and are difficult for law enforcement to trace when used to commit a crime.
The Department of Justice's final rule has been making its way through the federal regulatory process for nearly a year and is likely to draw opposition and litigation from gun advocates in the coming weeks.
"These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals," Biden said during an event in the White House Rose Garden. "We're going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice."
The rule would make it illegal for businesses to manufacture such kits without a serial number and for a licensed gun dealer to sell them without a background check, Biden said.
The rule is part of a series of measures announced by Biden and the Justice Department in April last year to tackle growing gun violence in the United States and curb mass shootings.
In 2021, there were about 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations – a tenfold increase from 2016, according to statistics shared by the White House.
The Justice Department rule bans unserialized "buy build shoot" kits that individuals can buy online or at a store without a background check and can readily assemble into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes with equipment they have at home. It also turns some ghost guns already in circulation into serialized firearms.
Gun deaths increased in 2021 over 2020, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
In 2021 there were 20,726 gun deaths in the United States, not counting suicides by gun, the group reported. This included 693 mass shootings, defined by four or more people being shot, and claimed 702 lives and injured more than 2,800 people, the group reported.
Biden also nominated Steve Dettelbach, a former US attorney from Ohio, to run ATF.