WASHINGTON — Facing Republican opposition to the passage of gun control legislation, President Biden on Thursday announced a set of initial steps he could take on his own to address the epidemic of gun violence.
The most significant proposal was a crackdown on the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, or firearms that are assembled from kits and do not carry serial numbers.
“I want to see these kits treated as firearms under the Gun Control Act,” Mr. Biden said.
Here’s what you need to know about the weapons the Biden administration is targeting and why.
What is a ghost gun?
Traditional firearms are made by licensed companies and then bought from licensed gun dealers. All guns manufactured in the United States, as well as those imported from abroad, are legally required to have serial numbers that are typically displayed on the back of the frame.
10,000 ghost guns in 2019. In cities, those numbers are rising at what the authorities say is an alarming rate every year. Proponents of stricter gun laws have been pushing for action on ghost guns to address the growing problem before it becomes a full-blown catastrophe.
In Philadelphia, for instance, 250 ghost guns were recovered in 2020, up from 99 in 2019. In Baltimore, 126 ghost guns were recovered last year, up from 29 in 2019.
“Forty-one percent, so almost half our cases we’re coming across, are these ‘ghost guns,’” Carlos A. Canino, the special agent in charge of the A.T.F. Los Angeles field division, told ABC News last year.
Have they been linked to mass shootings?
Some mass shootings have been linked to ghost guns, like the 2019 shooting at a high school in California, where a 16-year-old killed two students. A ghost gun was also linked to a 2017 rampage in which a gunman killed his wife and four others in Northern California.
But analysts said that ghost guns were not disproportionately linked to mass shootings. The bigger issue is that they are disproportionately affecting day-to-day gun violence in communities of color across the country, gun safety groups said.