President Joe Biden’s Attempt to Stop ‘Ghost Guns’ Has Policy Implications for Texas and Other States


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s crackdown on unobtainable do-it-yourself gun kits could put gun regulations back in the political forefront in Texas and across the country ahead of an election this fall.

President Joe Biden used a Rose Garden event on Monday to announce new regulations targeting so-called “ghost guns” that can be assembled at home from kits purchased online. The resulting guns can be just as deadly as those purchased from a gun store, but have no serial numbers so authorities can trace them if they are used in a crime.

“Law enforcement is ringing the alarm bells,” Biden said of the phantom guns. “Our communities are paying the price.”

The ghost gun market has exploded in states like California that have moved to aggressively regulate gun sales, said Ari Freilich, director of state policy at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom wants to ban ghost gun kits with an approach inspired by Texas’ controversial abortion law that relies on citizen lawsuits for its enforcement.

“Ghost guns are still a critical threat to public safety in Texas, but Texas law allows those involved in gun trafficking or who cannot legally access guns to acquire fully assembled guns,” said Freilich.

Texas received a failing “F” grade on the gun law scorecard released by the group led by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Arizona, which has lobbied for stronger laws strict on firearms since being shot in the head in a 2011 assassination attempt.

Gun regulation is a thorny political issue in many parts of the country, including Texas, where a group pushing for open-carrying legislation several years ago brought a known machine to the steps of the Capitol. under the name Ghost Gunner who can quickly produce a functional weapon. Open carry eventually became law in Texas, underscoring the state’s reputation for having lax gun regulations.

Biden’s phantom gun proposal has drawn heavy criticism from groups including the National Rifle Association, which is holding its annual meeting next month in Houston.

Andi Turner, legislative director of the NRA affiliate Texas State Rifle Association, pointed to a so-called “Second Amendment Sanctuary” measure passed by state lawmakers last summer that prohibits the use of state to enforce new federal gun controls.

Turner said the proposal unveiled Monday would affect not only federally licensed gun dealers, but also hobbyists who want to make their own guns.

“Remember, we’ve been building our own guns in this country ever since we landed on the shores of this great country,” Turner said. “President Biden’s new anti-2nd Amendment ‘regulations’ ignore history and will do nothing to help law-abiding citizens.”

She predicted that the new regulations would inevitably lead to legal challenges, and America’s gun owners announced they would go to court to fight the rule.

“Just as we opposed the Trump administration’s arbitrary ban on bump stocks, the GOA will also pursue … to stop the implementation of this rule,” said Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs at the agency. organization in a press release. The group argues that Biden’s action violates the US Constitution and several federal laws.

At Monday’s event, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation requiring universal background checks while banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Many Texas Democrats released statements welcoming the new rules, including Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, who faulted Senate Republicans for blocking sensible gun safety legislation.

“I refuse to believe that gun violence in our neighborhoods, schools and places of worship is acceptable, and I will continue to fight for common sense legislation to strengthen background checks and prevent weapons of war from our streets and our schools,” Allred said.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, said gun violence in the United States in general and in Texas in particular is an epidemic.

“But instead of working to find common-sense solutions to prevent rising gun-related deaths, Texas continues to implement policies that will only make the crisis worse,” Johnson said. “That’s why I’m proud of President Biden for taking this critical executive action to help stop the spread of phantom guns, which Texas does not currently regulate.”

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, shared his appreciation via Twitter.

“This decision will enhance public safety and is a decision that all Americans — regardless of party — can call common sense,” Veasey wrote.

Biden’s focus on gun regulation could carry over into races such as the Texas gubernatorial contest.

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke dropped out of his 2020 presidential campaign ahead of the first primary, but only after saying during a debate that ‘yes’ the government should not allow private ownership of assault weapons like than AR-15s and AK-47s.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Representative Beto O'Rourke speaks during a shooting...

O’Rourke has continued to speak about the fight against these weapons and gun violence as he leads this round against Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

In a statement Monday, Abbott’s campaign spokesman Mark Miner pointed to the small number of people prosecuted for lying on federal firearms forms.

“Unlike Beto O’Rourke, Governor Abbott supports the Second Amendment,” Miner said. “President Biden should focus his Justice Department on enforcing existing laws rather than punishing law-abiding citizens. If the president really wanted to do something substantial, he could eliminate the backlog of complaints already filed for gun crimes that have already taken place.

Texas Republican Party spokesman James Wesolek said in a statement that every law-abiding U.S. citizen has the right to own, manufacture and accessorize their firearms.

“Creating regulations or barriers to impede this right is unconstitutional,” Wesolek said.

Dallas-area Republican U.S. Representative Beth Van Duyne questioned the direction of the Biden administration. “Repeat and violent criminals are unlikely to purchase legal gun kits online. Instead, the ATF should focus on criminal street gangs associated with drug cartels and keep violent criminals out of our neighborhoods,” she said.

Judiciary Committee member Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was away and did not immediately comment on the proposal. But he has previously indicated an openness to requiring background checks to purchase gun kits.

Describing him as a “vocal supporter of gun rights,” Politico quoted Cornyn in 2020 as saying, “I guess you can see you’re buying an assembled gun or an unassembled gun. For me, the same standard makes sense.

Senate Judiciary Committee member, freshman Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas uses a life-size photo of...

At Monday’s event, Biden also introduced Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney from Ohio, as his choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The subject of phantom guns is sure to come up during Dettelbach’s nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose members include Cornyn and fellow Republican from Texas, Sen. Ted Cuz.

“I am deeply concerned about the radical direction the ATF has taken over the past 16 months, including a clear and growing hostility toward Second Amendment rights,” Cruz said in a statement. “I will need to hear Mr. Dettelbach’s views on this issue in great detail.”


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