HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro led a coalition of 18 states issuing a letter calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to close the loophole in the ATF’s interpretation of the federal Gun Control Act.
The act allows criminals, domestic abusers and other prohibited purchases of firearms to evade common-sense gun laws and purchase 80% receivers, which can easily be assembled into un-serialized and untraceable “ghost guns,” according to a March 22 press release from the PA Office of Attorney General.
“Ghost guns are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for criminals and fueling the gun violence epidemic,” Shapiro said. “These DIY gun kits should be subject to the same background checks and qualifications as fully functioning firearms to prevent criminals who are not legally able to purchase or possess guns from getting their hands on these deadly, untraceable weapons.”
Shapiro said he has also personally spoken to President Biden about the issue of ghost guns.
Ghost guns typically start as “80% percent receivers” that are often sold in kits without background checks, according to the release. Currently, it’s reported that ATF’s incorrect interpretation allows 80 percent of receiver kits to be sold online and at gun shows throughout the country without background checks.
They are also not required to use serial numbers, thus making them untraceable by law enforcement after being assembled.
Garland is being called upon to issue new regulations that clarify the Gun Control Act includes 80% receivers in the category of firearms that require background checks.
In Pennsylvania, the seizure of ghost guns during raids and investigations by law enforcement has significantly increased, according to the release. To date, it’s said that 99 ghost guns in 2019, 250 in 2020, and more than 80 to date in 2021 have been recovered in Philadelphia.
In response to this increase in ghost gun recoveries, Shapiro issued a legal opinion in 2019, stating that these receivers must be treated the same as fully-functioning firearms under Pennsylvania law.
He entered into an agreement with the largest gun show promoter in the Commonwealth, banning the sale of ghost guns at their shows until 80% receiver kits are subject to background checks in March.