By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Apr 11 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Monday announced a new measure to regulate homemade weapons, known as “ghost guns” because they lack a serial number and can be purchased online.
These weapons are responsible for a growing number of mass shootings in the United States.
“It’s basic common sense,” said the president in defending the move at an event in the White House Rose Garden attended by survivors of mass shootings, parents who have lost children to gun violence and gun control activists.
On a table next to a podium were the parts to one of these clandestine weapons that can be purchased online and which buyers must then assemble themselves, a task that takes only about 30 minutes and requires a hand drill.
The president picked up the parts of the gun and showed how the assembly process is completed.
“It’s not hard to put together,” Biden said, going on to say, as he handled the pieces of the weapon, that “anyone can order it in the mail: a felon, a terrorist, a domestic abuser.”
“These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said, adding that “We are going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice and, when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time.”
Ghost guns have been so dubbed because they are difficult for police to trace, given that they lack serial numbers.
The measure announced by Biden, which will go into effect in four months, changes the current definition of a weapon under federal law to include those that are sold disassembled and those that can be “printed” on 3D printers.
Under the new rule, the kits containing the parts for ghost guns will have to have serial numbers that will enable them to be identified and anyone who buys them will have to submit to the same background check that buyers of traditional weapons must undergo.
Due to the difficulty of being traced, this type of weapon in recent years has attracted people who cannot buy pistols in the traditional way due to having a prior criminal history or because they are under age 18 or 21, the legal ages to buy weapons in various states in the US.
The ghost guns are being used more and more in school shootings, the Students Demand Action group says.
The White House event was attended by a member of that group, Mia Tretta, who in 2019 was shot in the abdomen by someone wielding a ghost gun and lost two of her classmates in a shooting at her Santa Clarita, California, school.
Saying that she was honored to be at the ceremony and to speak on behalf of her two murdered friends, Tretta said that “Now, finally, we have a president who realizes that thoughts and prayers alone are not enough,” while Biden looked on from beside the podium.
Tretta recalled how on Nov. 14, 2019, she got up concerned about a Spanish test she was to take that day and spent the morning with her friend, Dominic Blackwell, laughing and talking.
She said that suddenly they heard a gunshot followed by 16 more. One of the bullets hit her in the stomach but she managed to get up and flee, although her friend could not do so.
She went on to say how her parents had to wait for hours while she underwent surgery for the gunshot wound and then told her that her best friend had died along with another classmate, Gracie Muehlberger.
The shooter was a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide after the killings, using a .45 mm semiautomatic pistol that his father had assembled at home.
That shooting served to introduce the problem of ghost guns into the political debate with Democrats on the local level trying to get these guns regulated.