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Biden to Nominate New ATF Head, Announce Ghost Gun Rules


FILE - U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks after a roundtable discussion with advisers on steps to curtail U.S. gun violence, at the White House in Washington, June 23, 2021.

WASHINGTON — The White House says U.S. President Joe Biden will nominate a former federal prosecutor to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, while also announcing Monday new steps to regulate privately made firearms that lack serial numbers.

Biden’s choice for ATF director is Steve Dettelbach, who will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

At an event alongside Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Biden is set to announce his administration’s efforts to address so-called ghost guns, including banning the manufacturing of kits that consumers can assemble themselves to make a gun that lacks a serial number.

The new Justice Department rule will require both that the kits feature serial numbers that law enforcement can use to track weapons used in crimes and that sellers be federally licensed and conduct background checks on buyers.

Any store that obtains an already existing ghost gun must also give it a serial number.

FILE - Steve Dettelbach speaks at the Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Youngstown, Ohio.
FILE - Steve Dettelbach speaks at the Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Youngstown, Ohio.

Another part of the new rule addresses guns made with split receivers to ensure they are covered by regulations requiring serial numbers and background checks. The receiver is the part of a gun to which other parts, such as the barrel and trigger, attach.

FILE - "Ghost guns" are on display at the San Francisco Police Department headquarters in this November 2019 photo. President Biden is expected to announce tighter regulations requiring buyers of ghost guns to undergo background checks, sources say.
FILE - "Ghost guns" are on display at the San Francisco Police Department headquarters in this November 2019 photo. President Biden is expected to announce tighter regulations requiring buyers of ghost guns to undergo background checks, sources say.

And another section requires gun sellers that were previously allowed to destroy most records after 20 years to now retain the information until they close their business. A shop that closes down will then transfer the records to the ATF.

The Justice Department says that in 2021, law enforcement agencies reported 20,000 suspected ghost guns recovered during criminal investigations, ten times as many as in 2016.

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