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Congressman Darren Soto

Representing the 9th District of Florida

Soto calls for regulatory reform of 'ghost guns' after 9 Investigates' story

May 9, 2018
In The News

ORLANDO, Fla. - U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to explore the options of regulating "ghost guns."

The move comes after 9 Investigates' Karla Ray reported about a loophole that allows anyone to buy the necessary parts to assemble an AR-15 without undergoing a background check.

Delivered unfinished, every part needed to create an unregistered, untraceable AR-15 can be ordered online.

“The cool thing about it is you can customize it and build it the way you want to do it," an unidentified listener said on News 96.5 WDBO’s Orlando's Morning News with Joe Kelley. "It doesn't have to come out of the box a certain way."

Other listeners who called in to Kelley's radio show questioned why the pieces don’t contain serial numbers.

"You get the part. It doesn't work. You have to make it work," an unidentified listener said. "But it still should have a serial number on it for tracing. I don’t understand why there’s a gap there."

That’s a gap some lawmakers have tried to close, but even they admit that regulation is unlikely.

Soto is a co-sponsor of a bill known as the Ghost Guns are Guns Act, which would require buyers to undergo background checks before purchasing any raw materials needed to make a weapon, even when the lower receiver is unfinished. The bill has never been called for a vote.

"Since there hasn't been much movement, we're going to be sending a letter to ATF and the DOJ to look at regulatory reform to move on this," Soto said.

State efforts to regulate the parts of semi-automatic weapons have failed, too.

"Each of the individual parts that are sold can't be made into anything but a firearm," state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said.

Smith introduced legislation in Tallahassee to ban assault weapons and their parts, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

Some question the logistics of regulating something that is a hunk of metal until it’s machined into a weapon.

"Where do you draw the line?" an unidentified News 96.5 WDBO listener said on the air.

Beginning July 1, homemade guns in California will require serial numbers.

Other members of Central Florida’s congressional delegation are split on whether they believe ghost guns need to be regulated.

U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings support regulating the sales.

U.S. Rep. Bill Posey’s office said it is still researching the issue.

U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Dan Webster and Dennis Ross didn't respond to 9 Investigates' request for comment.

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