The Justice Department proposed a new rule Friday to update the definition of “firearm” in an effort to close the so-called “ghost gun” loophole.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the modernized definition would require retailers to perform background checks on customers before selling some ready-made kits that allow people to build their own guns.

Such guns are known as “ghost guns” because they don’t have serial numbers and can’t be traced.

“Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement,” Garland said.

“This proposed rule would help keep guns out of the wrong hands and make it easier for law enforcement to trace guns used to commit violent crimes, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. Although this rulemaking will solve only one aspect of the problem, we have an obligation to do our part to keep our families and our neighborhoods safe from gun violence.”

Under the proposed rule, manufacturers must include a serial number on the firearm frame or receiver in a kit. Firearm dealers also must add serial numbers to 3D-printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into their inventory.

The Justice Department said that from 2016 to 2020, law enforcement officials seized more than 23,000 un-serialized firearms from potential crime scenes. Such guns were connected to 325 homicides or attempted homicides.

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