Maui News

Hawaiʻi AG joins coalition in backing new federal rule to regulate ghost guns

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Hawai‘i Attorney General Holly T. Shikada today joined a group of 20 Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief supporting a new federal rule regulating “ghost guns.”

“Ghost guns” are unserialized weapons that are often made at home from weapon parts kits or partially complete frames and receivers and can be purchased without background checks. 

The AGs say the rule would help ensure that buyers pass background checks before purchasing such kits and 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 dangerous weapons into Hawai‘i,” according to a news release issued by AG Shikada.

“By passing our own ‘ghost gun’ laws, Hawaiʻi has done its part to keep communities safe from these untraceable and easily built firearms,” Attorney General Shikada said.  “We now look to the federal government to adopt this new rule to assist in preventing these guns from entering our state without having the necessary safeguards to keep Hawaiʻi safe.”

In recent years, Hawai‘i has seen an increase in the number of “ghost guns” recovered by law enforcement. Just this past month, the Honolulu Police Department reported that a Hawai‘i teen was arrested after a traffic altercation involving a ghost gun, and in April of this year, the Maui Police Department discovered a 3D printer and parts to assemble ghost guns during the execution of a search warrant. 

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“Absent federal enforcement, these dangerous weapons have continued to proliferate, including in states that have tried to regulate ghost guns themselves.  The Final Rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives helps curb this problem by serving as a vital backstop to existing state efforts to stem the flow of ‘ghost guns,'” according to AG Shikada’s news release.

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The ATF’s Final Rule regulates ghost guns by clarifying critical definitions in the Gun Control Act. Specifically, the Final Rule makes it clear that weapon 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 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 dangerous weapons,” according to the AGs.

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