Ghost Guns in a Federalist Republic
I support a federalist gun policy.
If a state wants to adopt stricter measures then so be it, but if a state doesn’t then so free it.
As opposed to a federal background check, a federalist background check would require a seller to type your state ID number into your state database to see if your state prohibits you from buying a gun. Simple.
But a buyer could bypass a seller altogether by simply making a gun at home.
And it’s becoming easier to do via 3D-printing.
So really whether it be a federal or federalist approach to gun control what actions could a government take to stop someone from getting a ghost gun?
A ghost gun is a gun that lacks a serial number by which it can be identified and that is typically assembled by the user.
Ghost guns can be those who’ve had their serial numbers removed, which has always been illegal since serial numbers were first required in 1968, or can be those who’ve never had a serial number whether because it’s old or illegally sold, or as is the focus of this essay and the rising ghost gun movement… because it’s sold in parts, therefore avoiding firearm regulations, and/or it’s 3D-printed.
First, let’s consider the supply chain of a 3D-printed gun:
Manufacturer: makes the 3D printer and/or gun kit.
Transporter: a company delivers it to a person’s home.
Educator: teachers how to assemble it (often online).
Assembler: prints and assembles the gun together.
Owner: Generally, the assembler.
As ghost gun bans have been ramping up the past few years, some states will criminalize every step.
Essentially, states are increasingly treating “firearm precursor parts” as firearms themselves, therefore, requiring the same regulation, e.g. serial numbers, background checks, and licenses.
New Jersey has gone so far as to make it illegal to distribute information on how to assemble a 3D-printed gun.
American: My 2nd Amendment right!
New Jersey: And your first.
This has culminated with the Biden Administration criminalizing virtually all ghost guns.
Under the new regulations, manufacturers and dealers of ghost guns must be federally licensed, parts used to make the weapons will need serial numbers and purchasers must undergo a background check.
Currently, virtually all ghost guns are at least partly prefabricated, but as the authorities and ghost gunners play cat-and-mouse we can expect to see “firearm precursor parts” further fragmented down to the point where ghost guns will more commonly be 100% 3D-printed.
This means that in order for governments to reduce ghost guns they’ll have to treat 3D-printers as a “firearm precursor part.”
The conservative view must always be that any measure that seeks to increase safety must be offset by a measure that increases liberty by an equal or greater amount.
The first problem with Biden’s regulation is it’s being done via regulation rather than legislation; and second, it gives the federal government more power over an area where the constitution says it has little to none.
The 2nd Amendment protects Americans’ right to keep and bear arms from the infringement of the federal government and to a lesser extent from the states.
We should abolish federal background checks, federal gun manufacturing licensing, federal dealer licensing, and the federal gun tax and just have the aforementioned federalist background check so that if I sell you a gun, gun part, or 3D-printer then I must check your state ID and then simply input the product’s serial number.
The information would go into your state’s database, which if federal officers are investigating a crime involving you they could request the information. State governments would virtually always grant it, except in the rare circumstance where they find the request to be unreasonable, e.g. let us know all the guns that are registered to Senator McPredator because we have a tip he’s going to incite violence.
The Left should like this federalist approach to gun policy because they’re no loopholes. It’d be much easier for blue states to keep guns out of the hands of their residents because, for example, if a state wanted to ban anyone under the age of 21 years old from getting a gun then teenagers couldn’t just drive to the next state over to make the purchase since sellers would have to check their ID.
The Right should like it because it adheres more to the constitution, expands states' rights, and so if you live in a red state that presumably governs conservatively then that would mean virtually anyone could be a legal gun manufacturer, seller, buyer, and owner with no gun tax nor fear that some federal gun regulation will be signed in the middle of the night that has made something you own or do illegal. The Right should also like it out of a sense of realpolitik because if we don’t embrace a federalist approach to gun policy then we’ll continue to see Republicans push for evermore federal funding for police and “mental health.” They’ll also continue to overcompensate for being pro-gun on the one hand by supporting harsh anti-gun minimum sentencing on the other hand such as in Florida where if you “carry a weapon during the commissioning of a violent crime,” you get a minimum 10-year sentence, but what if that “violent crime” was a leftwing court deciding you used “excessive force” in defense of your own home?
And then by allowing our states to be more laboratories of innovation again we’ll see who outlives who.
I suspect stabbings would go up in the former whereas firearm accidents and suicides would go up in the latter. The jury is still out on whether more firearms lead to a higher murder rate.
In the long run, though more firearms lead to a lot less killing not only because those with the most power to harm (the government) are checked by those with the greatest desire to be free, but also because when you entrust people you empower them, or as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”