AG Nessel Joins Coalition Arguing ATF Has Failed to Regulate Ghost Guns

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general urging the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to compel the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to regulate untraceable partially-assembled “ghost guns.”

In an amicus brief, the coalition asserts that the ATF must correct its “unlawful” 2015 interpretation of the Gun Control Act (GCA). 

From the 1980s through the early 2000s, the ATF classified the core components of handguns and rifles—frames and receivers—as “firearms” subject to federal regulation if the components could be quickly and easily converted into functioning guns. In 2015, the ATF reversed course, saying these components are no longer “firearms.”

 These weapons are sometimes called ghost guns because they lack serial numbers and identifying marks, are untraceable and sold without background checks.   

The attorneys general argue that the ATF’s reading of the GCA effectively gave the green light for unlicensed online retailers to sell nearly-complete firearms that can easily be converted into fully-functioning weapons.

The coalition argues that these ghost guns endanger residents of amici states and impede law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. 

“Ghost guns – like any other firearm sold in this country – should be regulated under the law,” said Nessel. “These DIY firearm kits are readily converted into fully functioning weapons, and there has been significant growth over the past few years in the availability of these firearms. We must exercise common sense when it comes to protecting individuals across this nation from the unregulated sale of untraceable firearms. An unregulated ghost gun ending up in the wrong hands is a threat to us all.”  

Attorney General Nessel joins the attorneys general from Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing this amicus brief. 

A copy of the brief is available here.  

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