Lori Lightfoot

Illinois Lawmakers, Biden Administration to Crack Down on Ghost Guns

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Saturday, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation to crack down on ghost guns.

"We’ve got to do more to protect our residents against this emerging threat," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a tweet Saturday.

"The legislation passed by both chambers early this morning would finally establish a regulatory scheme for firearms without serial numbers and set penalties for those found to be out of compliance."

House Bill 4383, passed on the last day of the 2022 Illinois legislative session, would ban the sale of gun parts or kits that don't have serial numbers, ban privately made firearms and require owners of unserialized parts to register them.

According to a report, Chicago police confiscated 455 ghost guns in 2021.

The bill is now headed to Gov. Pritzker's desk.

What are 'Ghost Guns'?

'Ghost guns' are unregulated firearms that are assembled from kits purchased online. The parts can be purchased without background checks and don't have serial numbers, which makes them harder to track.

At the federal level, President Joe Biden is expected Monday to unveil the administration's formal rule to rein in ghost guns.

Gun safety groups and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for the Justice Department to finish the rule for months, and it will likely be met with heavy resistance from gun groups and draw litigation in the coming weeks.

Justice Department statistics show that nearly 24,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement at crime scenes and reported to the government from 2016 to 2020. It is hard to say how many are circulating on the streets, in part because in many cases police departments don’t contact the government about the guns because they can’t be traced.

What Would President Biden's Ghost Gun Rule do?

The rule is expected to change the current definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts, like the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun.

In its proposed rule released last May, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was also seeking to require manufacturers and dealers who sell ghost gun parts to be licensed by the federal government and require federally licensed firearms dealers to add a serial number to any unserialized guns they plan to sell.

The rule would also require firearms dealers to run background checks before they sell ghost gun kits that contain parts needed to assemble a firearm.

For years, federal officials have been sounding the alarm about an increasing black market for homemade, military-style semi-automatic rifles and handguns. As well as turning up more frequently at crime scenes, ghost guns have been increasingly encountered when federal agents buy guns in undercover operations from gang members and other criminals.

President Biden's announcement is expected to come at an afternoon press conference from the White House, which will include gun control advocates and gun violence victims.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct title of the Bill. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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