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Gun control activists have been pushing the White House to implement executive orders on firearms since before Joe Biden was inaugurated, and it looks like they’re going to get their wish this week. POLITICO is reporting that the administration will announce several executive orders dealing with guns and gun sales on Thursday, citing a number of anonymous administration officials.
Biden will direct the administration to begin the process of requiring buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers — to undergo background checks, according to three people who have spoken to the White House about the plans. He is expected to be joined at the event by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives is already facing a lawsuit that was launched by then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California and several gun control groups over the agency’s current determination that unfinished frames and receivers do not constitute firearms that would require background checks, but if Biden mandates an about face from the ATF on the issue expect more litigation; this time coming from pro-2A Attorneys General and Second Amendment advocacy groups.
As for the other potential executive orders, it sounds like Biden may try to force the ATF to declare that AR-style pistols are in fact short-barreled rifles that are required to be registered under the National Firearms Act. That move too would prompt a swift legal response, given that the statutory language is pretty clear. These guns don’t meet the definition of a short-barreled rifle, though the ATF has previously suggested that attaching a stabilizing brace could, in some circumstances, turn an AR-style pistol into an SBR.