The President of the United States, Joe Biden, will announce on Thursday half a dozen measures to limit guns in the country, pressured by the recent shootings in Atlanta and Colorado, as well as by the inaction of Congress. Among the initiatives that Biden is preparing to announce is one that seeks to curb the proliferation of homemade weapons, known as “ghost guns”, according to the White House in a call with reporters.
The “ghost guns” allow, from kits with parts, to assemble in about half an hour weapons that are difficult for authorities to trace since they lack serial numbers. “Police in cities across the country are reporting a growing problem. Criminals are buying kits that contain nearly all the components and instructions to make a gun in as little as 30 minutes. And they are using these weapons to commit crimes,” one official explained on the call.
Biden will order the Justice Department to present a plan within 30 days to “help curb the proliferation” of this type of weaponry. The U.S. president will also order the Justice Department to regulate devices called “arm braces” which, when attached, convert handguns into rifles, making them much more accurate.
The perpetrator of the Colorado supermarket shooting that left 10 dead two weeks ago used one of these devices in his killing spree, in which there were no survivors.
In the U.S., moreover, anyone can make their own firearm with a 3D printer. In 2018, the US Department of Justice ruled that blueprints explaining how to make homemade guns can be posted on the internet, but now legally. For years, there had been a legal battle between the makers of these designs (the company Defense Distributed) and the State Department.
The first firearm made with a 3D printer saw the light of day in 2013, reports the BBC. Instructions showing how to follow the process were posted on the Internet and thousands of users downloaded them. But soon after, the U.S. government ordered them to be taken down, on the grounds that they violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which govern what military hardware is allowed to be exported.
Biden also plans to appoint as the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) David Chipman, a former agent who in recent years has been a private sector advocate of gun regulation.
Chipman’s eventual confirmation will depend on the Senate, where the gun debate raises passions and where the Democrats have a very fragile majority. Moreover, the Senate has not authorized the appointment of any chief for the ATF since 2013.
Biden will push for three other measures, one aimed at encouraging states to allow judges to restrict gun access to certain individuals, the drafting of a report on gun trafficking, and funding for programs to reduce gun violence in urban settings. Homicides in 2020 rose 33% on average in the 66 largest U.S. cities, according to CNN data.
Biden will take these low-key steps while waiting for Congress to act more broadly, although Republicans in the Senate have blocked most of the Democratic legislative agenda, including gun control measures.