Skip to content

Blumenthal & Espaillat Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Protect Communities From Untraceable Ghost Guns

Loopholes in current statutes allow anyone – including felons, traffickers, & extremists – to manufacture or assemble untraceable firearms using a 3-D printer or do-it-yourself kit

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) led a group of 26 lawmakers in reintroducing the Ghost Guns and Untraceable Firearms Act, legislation to ban dangerous “ghost” guns. These weapons, which are easily assembled with a 3-D printer or a do-it-yourself gun making kit purchased from an unlicensed seller, can be obtained without passing a background check and have become the weapon of choice for criminals and extremists. Without a unique serial number, these guns are often untraceable and impede investigations by law enforcement. The bill would require online and other sellers of gun-making kits to comply with federal firearm safety regulations.

“Ghost guns are a major threat to public safety and law enforcement’s ability to protect our communities,” said Blumenthal. “Without serial numbers and readily available for anyone to assemble, these untraceable weapons are a convenient tool for those that hope to cause harm. Our measure closes the gaping loopholes that allow domestic abusers, criminals, and terrorists to bypass background checks. A homemade gun is still a gun. Subjecting these weapons to the same safety measures and requirements will save lives.”

“Gun violence has taken far too many lives and affected countless families around our nation,” said Espaillat. “Ghost guns are propelling this crisis, as these weapons are self-assembled, untraceable, and can allow criminals to evade firearm background checks. This has presented an ever-growing challenge for law enforcement agencies, as the number of ghost guns recovered at crime scenes has increased exponentially over the past few years alone. Our bill, the Ghost Guns and Untraceable Firearms Act, would codify the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF’s) authority to regulate and track these deadly weapons. We cannot ignore the public health implications facing the country as a direct result of ghost guns and our bill would implement commonsense solutions to help combat this crisis.”

The use of “ghost” guns across the country has been dramatically increasing. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the number of “ghost” guns recovered and traced by law enforcement went from 1,629 in 2016 to 19,273 in 2021, a more than 1000% increase.

Specifically, the Ghost Guns and Untraceable Firearms Act would permanently include the core building blocks of “ghost” guns–unfinished frames and receivers–in the definition of “firearm” under federal law. In doing so, online and other gun kit manufacturers and distributors selling frames and receivers that can “readily” be converted into fully functional weapons would be required to comply with the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms.

It also includes a requirement that sellers have a manufacturer’s license and put a serial number on the frame or receiver included in each kit, and that purchasers undergo a background check. 

The Ghost Guns and Untraceable Firearms Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

In the House, the bill is also led by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Brad Schneider (D-IL). 

The legislation is endorsed by the Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Giffords, and Newtown Action Alliance.

“Untraceable ghost guns, which can be obtained with no background check and no questions asked, are a dream come true for violent criminals and a nightmare for law enforcement,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Ghost guns look like a gun, shoot like a gun, and kill like a gun, so they must be regulated like a gun. We’re thankful to Senate Democrats for introducing legislation to do just that and we urge the gun sense majority in Congress to pass the Untraceable Firearms Act.”

“In recent years, the rise of unregulated ghost guns has had devastating consequences in communities all over the country. These unserialized and untraceable firearms are designed to evade public safety laws  – like background checks – which ensure firearms cannot be obtained by those who are not legally permitted to have them, including gun traffickers, those convicted of violent felonies and domestic violence abuse, and minors.  We cannot afford to wait. We must act now to stop the spread of these dangerous weapons. Brady is grateful to Senator Blumenthal for reintroducing this common sense bill to bolster public safety and the well-being of our communities,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady.

“Ghost guns can be obtained without a background check and intentionally lack serial numbers, meaning law enforcement has no clue where a gun came from when it is used in a crime. And with the gun lobby using the courts to block implementation and enforcement of the ATF’s rule regulating ghost guns, Congress must act to stop the alarming proliferation of these dangerous weapons. We applaud Senator Blumenthal for introducing the Untraceable Firearms Act to ensure that the key parts of ghost guns—the frame or receiver—are rightly regulated as firearms,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director at GIFFORDS.

“According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives federal crime report, the number of suspected ghost guns recovered by law enforcement and submitted to the bureau for tracing increased by more than 1,000% between 2017 and 2021. It’s time for Congress to keep our children and families safe by passing the Untraceable Firearms Act to ban ghost guns to prevent criminals, domestic abusers, mass shooters, & other dangerous individuals from assembling their own untraceable weapons without background check, serial number, or sale record”, said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance. 

Text of the Senate bill can be found here.