President Joe Biden's legal challenge targeting so-called "ghost guns" went into effect on Aug. 24, focusing on curbing the proliferation of privately assembled firearms.
The rules, which the White House posted in April, are designed to prevent unlicensed guns from being sold to convicted felons and other ineligible buyers by making clear that retailers run background checks before selling kits that contain parts for someone to assemble a gun, a similar rule to commercially made firearms.
In addition, commercial manufacturers will be federally required to assign serial numbers to the main components, such as the kit's frame or receiver, used to manufacture ghost guns. They also have to retain records for the length of time they are licensed. The current rule allows sellers to purge records after 20 years.
"These guns have often been sold as build-your-own kits that contain all or almost all of the parts needed to quickly build an unmarked gun. And anyone could sell or buy these guns without a background check," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said on Wednesday.
"This rule will make it harder for criminals and other prohibited persons to obtain untraceable guns," he said. "It will help to ensure that law enforcement officers can retrieve the information they need to solve crimes."
When Biden announced his executive action against ghost guns, the National Rifle Association (NRA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and others criticized the president's measure.
Grassley commented on Biden claiming law enforcement reported a "tenfold increase" in ghost guns from 2016 as the president pushed Congress to "ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines" to enact further gun control laws.
The Republican senator observed that Biden's statement regarding "20,000 suspected ghost guns" was essentially meaningless, as it failed to distinguish between “suspected” and actual ghost guns, or even to disclose "how many crimes were committed using an actual privately made firearm."
Biden has rejected criticism by the NRA, asking Americans, during a Rose Garden address in April, if it's "extreme" to protect police officers, extreme to protect our children, or extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t even pass a background check.
The rule "isn’t extreme," the president said at the time. "It’s just basic common sense."
Even before the final rule was published, Gun Owners of America (GOA) announced plans "to fight back immediately," claiming the measure would allow ATF "to expand its nearly billion-record gun registry and regulate gun parts as firearms," creating a de facto gun registry in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Retailers selling ghost gun components have been racing in recent weeks to offload their inventory ahead of Wednesday's deadline, with some online dealers selling out completely.
Biden's move was cheered by others, such as John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
"Ghost guns look like a gun, they shoot like a gun, and they kill like a gun, but up until now they haven’t been regulated like a gun," he said in a statement. "We applaud the Biden–Harris administration for doubling down on its commitment to gun safety by taking action to rein in ghost guns."