- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Backs New Federal Rule to Regulate Ghost Guns
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in supporting a new federal rule regulating “ghost guns”— untraceable firearms that lack serial numbers or identifying marks and are often made at home from kits that have been purchased online without background checks.
The new rule adopted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would help ensure that law enforcement officers can trace any self-made guns that are later used in a crime. It would also limit gun traffickers’ ability to distribute these weapons into Massachusetts.
“Ghost guns pose a serious threat to the safety of our residents – they’re untraceable and often made from easily accessible household items, allowing dangerous individuals to circumvent our laws,” AG Healey said. “My office has prioritized working with our law enforcement partners to get these guns off our streets. This important rule put forward by the Biden Administration will require compliance with laws that require serial numbers and critical background checks.”
In recent years, the AG’s Office has seen a significant increase in the purchase and possession of ghost guns by dangerous individuals through its criminal investigations. The AG’s Criminal Bureau is working to get these weapons out of communities. In April 2020, AG Healey’s Office charged a Winthrop man with illegally possessing firearms in connection with an investigation resulting in the seizure of ghost guns. During the execution of a search warrant at the man’s residence, law enforcement recovered two semi-automatic ghost guns, nearly 3,000 rounds of ammunition, eight large-capacity firearm feeding devices, a cache of gun parts and accessories, an instructional DVD on how to build an untraceable AR-15 assault rifle at home, and a 3D mold for building ghost guns, In October 2020, a Wrentham man was sentenced to two and a half years for possession of illegal firearms in connection with an investigation that resulted in the seizure of six ghost guns that the defendant built himself.
AG Healey supports state legislation to ban the possession, manufacture, and assembly of ghost guns and 3-D printed weapons in Massachusetts. But absent federal enforcement, these weapons continue to proliferate.
The ATF’s Final Rule regulates ghost guns by clarifying critical definitions in the federal Gun Control Act. Specifically, the Final Rule makes it clear that weapons parts kits and partially complete frames or receivers—the key building blocks for ghost guns — are “firearms” under the Act if they can be readily converted to function as such. In making this sensible clarification, the Final Rule helps ensure that these kits and partially complete frames or receivers are subject to the same serialization and background check requirements as conventionally manufactured guns. This helps close a dangerous loophole in firearms regulation that enabled people to evade existing gun laws and get their hands on these weapons.
Joining AG Healey in filing the brief are the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.