Cicilline Leading Push in Congress to Crack Down on Untraceable Firearms

May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON – In order to address the growing threat that ghost guns present to public safety, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) today announced the introduction of the Untraceable Firearms Act of 2021.

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic in our country. In recent years, the increased presence of ghost guns in our communities has made this problem even worse. These untraceable weapons make it harder for law enforcement to find and prosecute violent criminals,” said Cicilline. “This legislation will close the ghost gun loophole and make these weapons easier to trace. It’s just commonsense.”

The Untraceable Firearms Act closes the ghost gun loophole by amending the existing definition of “firearm” under federal law to include gun kits and partial receivers and by changing the definition of “manufacturing firearms” to include assembling firearms using 3D printing technology. By modifying these definitions, the Untraceable Firearms Act ensures that ghost guns, including firearms manufactured or completed using 3D printing, are subject to existing federal firearm regulation, including:

  • Requiring that anyone who participates in the production of frames or receivers has a manufacturer’s license.
  • Requiring that the manufacturer serialize a partial receiver before it is transferred to another entity.
  • Clarifying that purchasers must undergo a background check before acquiring a partial receiver.
  • Prohibiting anyone other than a manufacturer or licensed importer from engraving a serial number on a firearm, so as to ensure that ATF is able to trace the firearm, kit, or receiver.

“Untraceable and unregulated firearms, sometimes called “ghost guns,” are an existential threat to public safety,” Brady President Kris Brown shared. “These weapons are easily accessible to any person regardless of age or criminal background, requiring no background check and no questions asked. They are just as easily assembled, and sometimes come in kits with all the necessary parts and even the tools to complete them, undermining all existing gun laws. The Untraceable Firearms Act is a common-sense solution to this pressing problem and Brady thanks Rep. Cicilline and Senator Blumenthal for introducing this important bill.”

“Ghost guns are the fastest growing gun safety threat in the country, for obvious reasons — anyone with a credit card and internet connection can easily score an untraceable gun with no background check, no serial number, and no questions asked. To stop the proliferation of ghost guns, we need to make sure they are subject to the same lifesaving rules as other guns, and we applaud Rep. Cicilline for introducing this legislation to do exactly that.” – John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

“Ghost guns have emerged as a fast-growing public safety threat,” said Lindsay Nichols, Federal Policy Director at Giffords. “It’s too easy to buy parts online to build a ghost gun. These do-it-yourself guns are untraceable, allowing individuals who should not have access to a firearm to obtain one and preventing law enforcement officials from doing their jobs. We are proud to partner with Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Cicilline in reintroducing the Untraceable Firearms Act and applaud their commitment to ensuring that homemade guns must meet the same requirements as traditionally manufactured guns. This vital legislation will ultimately keep our streets safer and we urge other members of Congress to find the courage to act on this critically important issue.”

Ghost guns, which are untraceable since they lack a serial number, have presented a growing challenge for law enforcement agencies across America in recent years. From 2017 until 2019, the number of ghost guns recovered in Washington, D.C., increased 3,700 percent. A 2019 California statewide analysis showed that 30 percent of guns recovered in crimes did not have serial numbers. Approximately 2,500 ghost guns have been connected to criminal activity in 102 federal cases over the last decade.

A companion bill is being introduced today by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who said, “Our bill would close the ‘ghost’ gun loophole for good. An assault weapon built from a kit ordered online can kill just as many people as one bought in a store – only the DIY version doesn’t require an ID, licensing, or a background check. There’s nothing ghostly about ‘ghost’ guns – they look like guns, shoot like guns, and kill like guns. Our legislation would ensure that violent extremists, domestic abusers, and foreign terrorists can’t evade background checks and other safety measures by building weapons at home instead of buying them from a store.”