United States: Biden to strengthen regulations against “ghost” weapons

US President Joe Biden will announce on Monday an executive order against so-called “ghost” weapons, which are difficult to spot in the absence of a serial number and can be mounted at home in just a few minutes, the White House said in a press release.

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The executive order, which took a year to develop, concerns a type of weapon that law enforcement officials say is increasingly showing up at crime scenes in the United States.

“It is the weapon of choice for criminals,” the White House said in its statement.

Under the executive order, component parts that can be easily assembled into a functional firearm will be subject to the same requirements as pre-assembled firearms available for purchase, administration officials said.

Dealers of such spare parts kits will now have to carry out background checks on potential buyers or even include a serial number on the constituent parts of a firearm, namely the frame or the receiver.

Finally, to bolster tracing efforts, federally licensed firearms dealers will be required to keep their records for as long as they are in business, not just 20 years as was the case until now. now.

The decree “will make it more difficult for criminals (…) to obtain non-traceable firearms”, will improve the work of law enforcement officials because they will be able to “retrieve the information they need to solve crimes” and “will help reduce the number of untraceable firearms flooding our communities,” Justice Minister Merrick Garland said.

From January 2016 to December 2021, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), approximately 45,240 reports of firearms suspected of being manufactured by private individuals were recovered by law enforcement, including in 692 homicide or attempted homicide investigations, the Justice Department said.

Over this period, the ATF only succeeded in tracing the owner of a “ghost” weapon in only 0.98% of cases, detailed the ministry.

According to the organization Gun Violence Archive, more than 11,700 people have died by firearm since the beginning of the year in the United States, including suicides. Over the whole of 2021, the number was 45,000 dead, according to the same site.

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