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Schumer wants ATF to tighten regulations on 'ghost guns'

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference in midtown Manhattan Sunday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Sen. Chuck Schumer urged the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Sunday to fast-track a proposal that would require background checks and serial numbers for "ghost guns."

"When it comes to ghost guns, we need the ATF to exorcise them," the Senate majority leader said during a news conference outside his midtown Manhattan office.

Ghost guns are untraceable weapons built from kits or individual parts and sold without background checks or serial numbers even though they can easily be constructed into fully functional weapons.

"It is like Legos, but much more dangerous," said Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The new rule Schumer wants enacted as soon as possible would define ghost gun kits as firearms that require background checks and serial numbers. It would make clear that weapons parts are firearms subject to federal gun regulations, and it would require those who sell gun parts and kits to register as dealers.

The NYPD has recovered 135 ghost guns so far this year, a nearly 700% increase compared to 17 in 2018, Schumer said.

In July 2020, Nassau police arrested three Farmingdale residents after 22 ghost guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and bomb-making equipment were found in their home.

"Ghost guns are haunting all of New York, cities, suburbs, you name it," Schumer said.

The U.S. Justice Department proposed the rule in May. Schumer said it is important not to let the proposal languish.

"The good news here is that under the Biden administration, the ATF is taking the issue of ghost guns much more seriously than the previous administration, and we applaud this action," Schumer said. "However, there is a proposed rule awaiting formal enactment, a rule that would help us combat these ghost weapons by requiring a background check, with the addition of a serial number on the kits that make these guns. We need this rule to move fast, without delay, because it will save lives."

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