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Parkland families attend White House event on 'ghost guns'

Fred Guttenberg, Manuel Oliver among those in attendance
President Biden 'ghost gun' event, April 11, 2022
Posted at 4:29 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 18:33:09-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Several Parkland parents were at the White House on Monday as President Joe Biden took aim at "ghost guns," privately made firearms without serial numbers.

Among the crowd at the Rose Garden event were Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver, who both lost children during the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"It's an emotional day, it's a small victory and that makes me feel good," Oliver said.

Oliver tweeted that he was wearing the shoes that his son was going to wear to his prom in 2018 before he was killed.

They were joined by other victims of gun violence, including a survivor of a high school shooting in Santa Clarita, California, in 2019.

That high school shooting was done with a "ghost gun," a firearm made in a mail-order kit and without any traceable serial number.

The president's action now makes all ghost guns be classified as firearms, requiring serial numbers and background checks for anyone buying them.

"The NRA called this rule extreme. Let me ask, is it extreme to protect police officers? Is it extreme to protect our children? Is it extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn't pass a background check?" Biden asked at Monday's event.

"Ghost guns" are legal in Florida. According to some firearms experts, the weapons are typically bought as a novelty and are not as reliable as traditional firearms.

"I think the majority from what we've seen it's more of a hobby. A lot of people build their own rifles, now they can build their own handguns," said Reuben Nieves of Palm Beach Shooting Center.

Reuben Nieves, Palm Beach Shooting Center, speaks on ghost guns
Reuben Nieves speaks about "ghosts guns" in Florida.

Meanwhile, Oliver said he hopes the action on "ghost guns" can lead to more action on reducing gun violence.

"I know I'll be outside of the Rose Garden with more demands also starting today," Oliver said. "I would love to see more results, actual tangible things we can see happening."

The new federal rule goes into effect 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, and once implemented, will address unserialized firearms in several ways including the following:

  1. To help keep guns from being sold to convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers, the rule makes clear that retailers must run background checks before selling kits that contain the parts necessary for someone to readily make a gun.
  2. To help law enforcement trace guns used in a crime, the rule modernizes the definition of frame or receiver, clarifying what must be marked with a serial number – including in easy-to-build firearm kits.
  3. To help reduce the number of unmarked and hard-to-trace "ghost guns," the rule establishes requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers and gunsmiths to have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.
  4. To better support tracing efforts, the rule requires federal firearms licensees, including gun retailers, to retain records for the length of time they are licensed, thereby expanding records retention beyond the prior requirement of 20 years. Over the past decade, ATF has been unable to trace thousands of firearms – many reportedly used in homicides or other violent crimes – because the records had already been destroyed. These records will continue to belong to, and be maintained by, federal firearms licensees while they are in business.