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‘Untraceable Firearms’: Exploring Their Nature and the Ongoing Controversy

A struggle has emerged around the control of firearm kits known as “untraceable firearms,” which have gained attention due to their potential to create homemade guns.

The Supreme Court’s recent involvement and the challenges faced by these regulations have drawn attention to this issue.

The recent Supreme Court decision has temporarily reinstated the Biden administration’s attempt to regulate “untraceable firearms,” shedding light on kits that enable the assembly of homemade firearms and the new dimension in the ongoing discourse on gun control.

Credit: DepositPhotos

Officials from the administration indicate that the popularity of these firearms has surged, especially among individuals prohibited from purchasing conventional firearms.

The 2022 regulation, issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, expanded the bureau’s interpretation of the Gun Control Act of 1968’s “firearm” definition.

While the regulation didn’t ban the sale or possession of components used to assemble homemade guns, it mandated manufacturers and sellers to obtain licenses, affix serial numbers, and conduct background checks.

This regulation was a key element of President Biden’s comprehensive initiative to address the proliferation of illegal firearms.

In the previous year, Mr.

Biden expressed that the regulation would “contribute to saving lives, curbing crime, and removing more criminals from the streets.”

However, the federal endeavor to oversee untraceable firearms has encountered challenges in terms of inconsistent enforcement, notable loopholes, and ongoing legal battles.

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Although a lower court judge invalidated the regulation, the Supreme Court allowed it to stand temporarily while legal challenges continue.

Here’s an overview of the situation.

Understanding Untraceable Firearms

Ordinary firearms are produced by licensed companies and sold through licensed gun dealers.

All firearms manufactured within or imported to the United States are legally required to bear serial numbers, typically found on the frame’s rear.

In contrast, untraceable firearms are sold as separate parts and can be assembled by unlicensed individuals at their residences.

Prior to the introduction of federal regulations during the Biden administration, obtaining components for untraceable firearms didn’t necessitate a background check.

These components are available as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kits online, often dispatched as “80 percent receivers.” This term indicates that the firearm is 80 percent complete, with the final 20 percent requiring assembly by the purchaser.

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An appealing feature for many buyers was that untraceable firearms weren’t required to possess serial numbers—the crucial information used by law enforcement to trace a firearm’s journey from the manufacturer to the dealer and ultimately to the original purchaser.

Assembly Complexity and Accessibility

The process is straightforward and relatively inexpensive.

As per a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, an AR-15 build kit could cost as little as $345.

The sales pitches often emphasize minimal effort on the buyer’s part.

One online seller assured that the “assembly time is brief,” adding that within “an hour or two,” the firearm could be tested at the shooting range.

These kits generally include assembly instructions or provide links to YouTube tutorials.

A drill is usually the only tool required, and kits often include the necessary drill bits.

Many untraceable firearms kits also include a “jig,” a device facilitating assembly by fitting around the frame or receiver.

One source claimed that the jig could enable the completion of a firearm “in under 15 minutes with excellent results.”

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the top five instructional videos on YouTube related to untraceable firearm assembly have amassed over three million views.

Read More: Untraceable Firearms Exploring Their Nature and the Ongoing Controversy

Historical Context and Proliferation

Untraceable firearms aren’t a new concept, but they have gained traction recently.

Although firearm assembly kits have been available since the 1990s, their popularity surged around 2009. This rise coincided with firearm vendors in California offering unfinished receivers for AR-15 and AK-47 series firearms, aiming to circumvent the state’s assault weapon regulations.

This insight comes from T. Christian Heyne, the Vice President for Policy at Brady, a gun violence prevention organization.

Untraceable firearms gained broader attention in 2013 when one was linked to a shooting spree by an assailant who killed five individuals near

Santa Monica College in California

Sales of untraceable firearms notably increased around 2016, as people started purchasing kits to replicate firearms based on the Glock 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol.

Prevalence and Impact

Due to the absence of serial number and background check requirements, the exact number of untraceable firearms in circulation prior to last year’s regulation is unknown.

Nonetheless, data suggests an annual increase in the prevalence of these firearms, particularly in states with strict firearm regulations like California.

Law enforcement officials in California stated that untraceable firearms comprised 25 to 50 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes between 2020 and 2021, with the majority of individuals caught with these firearms being legally prohibited from firearm possession.

In 2021, the Justice Department reported that law enforcement agencies confiscated 19,300 homemade firearms, approximately five times the number seized or discovered at crime scenes in 2018.

Advocates for stricter firearm laws have called for action to address the untraceable firearms issue before it escalates further.

Opponents have raised concerns regarding the data suggesting their proliferation.

Connection to Mass Shootings

Several mass shootings have involved untraceable firearms, such as a 2019 incident at a California high school where a 16-year-old killed two students.

A 2017 rampage in Northern California, resulting in the deaths of the perpetrator’s wife and four others, was also linked to an untraceable firearm.

However, analysts suggest that untraceable firearms aren’t disproportionately associated with mass shootings.

The more significant concern is their impact on day-to-day gun violence, particularly affecting communities of color across the nation, according to gun safety organizations.

Effectiveness of Regulation

The capacity for President Biden to regulate untraceable firearms through executive actions is limited.

Officials and gun control advocacy groups have previously argued that the regulation has had minimal impact on curbing the sale of crucial parts used to assemble untraceable firearms.

Part of this challenge is rooted in the regulation’s origins as an executive action rather than a legislative statute validated by Congress..

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!