BOSTON ( – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to close the loophole in the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) interpretation of the federal Gun Control Act that allows criminals, domestic abusers, and other prohibited purchasers of firearms to evade common-sense federal gun laws and purchase 80 percent receivers, which can be easily assembled into unserialized and untraceable ghost guns.

“Ghost guns pose a serious threat to public safety – they’re untraceable and are often made from easily obtained household items, allowing people to circumvent our laws,” AG Healey said. “My office has been working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to get these guns, which are increasingly used in crimes, out of our communities. We’re calling on the Attorney General of the United States to make clear that these guns require background checks, so we can protect our residents from these dangerous weapons. The time to act is now.”

Ghost guns are privately made firearms that lack serial numbers, making them untraceable by law enforcement. Ghost guns often start as “80 percent receivers,” that are frequently sold in kits without background checks. Currently, ATF’s incorrect interpretation allows 80 percent receiver kits to be sold online and at gun shows throughout the country without federal background checks.

The letter, calls on AG Garland to issue a new interpretation of the Gun Control Act that will include 80 percent receivers in the category of firearms that require background checks.

Combatting gun violence is a top priority for AG Healey. In 2018, AG Healey issued a joint notice with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police, and Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, in issuing a public safety notice that details the serious violations of state law arising from the creation, transfer or possession of 3D-printed weapons, a form of ghost guns.

 Joining AG Healey in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.