Lawmakers push for ‘ghost gun’ registry

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As long as a homemade weapon for personal use is not transferred or sold to someone else, it is legal. But a measure at the Statehouse in Illinois would require those firearms to have a registered serial number.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states on its website “that a license is not required to manufacture a firearm solely for personal use.”

“However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution,” the ATF website states. “The law prohibits a person from assembling a non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or a shotgun from 10 or more imported parts, as well as firearms that cannot be detected by metal detectors or x-ray machines.”


Over the past decade, technology has advanced, allowing 3D printing devices and metallurgy factories to rapidly produce various firing mechanisms for firearms. Such equipment can take an incomplete firing mechanism and finish it off so that it is operational.

President Joe Biden announced new rules on so-called “shadow weapons” on Monday.

“This rule clarifies that these kits are considered ‘firearms’ under gun control law, and therefore commercial manufacturers of these kits must obtain a license and include the serial numbers on the frame or receiver of the kits, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and perform background checks prior to a sale – just as they must do with other commercially manufactured firearms,” said the White House website.

The White House also stressed that any federally licensed dealer who takes firearms without a serial number into their inventory must serialize the weapon.

“For example, if an individual builds a firearm at home and then sells it to a pawnbroker or other federally licensed dealer, that dealer must put a serial number on the gun before selling it. sell to a customer,” the White House said.

On the last day of the spring session on Saturday, the Illinois General Assembly approved House Bill 4383 that goes further than Biden’s rule. The Illinois measure would require firearms built from scratch for personal use that are not transferred to be registered.

State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said so-called ghost guns, or firearms handcrafted by various means from assembly parts from a kit, or from 3D printers, are a problem for law enforcement.

“The basic criminal that you’re trying to stop with the carjacking, they have these ghost guns and the investigators and the police and law enforcement are not able to solve the crime problem because they’re untraceable,” Collins said on Saturday.

State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, opposed the measure.

“It doesn’t solve a problem,” Anderson said. “It just makes criminals out of people who have a hobby.”

State Representative Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, argued at a committee hearing on Friday to demand that homemade guns be registered. He said home-built hobby cars had to be, and so did guns.

“If you buy a gun from a regular gun shop, it has a serial number assigned by the manufacturer,” Buckner said. “If you build a gun at home from parts or from a printer, you need to have a serial number on it.”

But retired gun rights lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the committee the measure likely violated constitutional rights and would have real-world ramifications for shooting enthusiasts and professionals.

“If you’re in Tennessee, you don’t need to serialize any of these guns,” Vandermyde said. “You come to Illinois and shoot a [competitive shooting] match [with a specialized, personalized firearm]and now all of a sudden it’s contraband per se because that gun is not serialized according to what this bill says? »

Illinois House Bill 4383 sets out a variety of definitions, according to Vandermyde, that are problematic for gun enthusiasts who enjoy modifying and customizing their guns. The measure will do nothing to punish bad actors, he said.

“There is no increased sentence for a criminal, a convicted criminal, who has done this,” Vandermyde explained. “But if I, as a law-abiding gun owner, don’t follow up and my guns aren’t serialized in the exact way, then I’m penalized.”

The measure says violations can be up to a Class 2 felony. He passed both chambers early Saturday and could soon be on the governor’s desk.

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