BILLINGS - After a series of mass shootings across the country in the past few weeks, President Joe Biden issued six executive actions to address the gun violence epidemic. Among these actions: cracking down on "ghost guns." These are guns that don't have serial numbers and are manufactured by putting together various components.
Cornelia Nicholson spoke with Andrew Stapleton, the operations manager at Black Butte Range, to get his reaction to the orders. Stapleton says it's not as simple as buying a kit and assembling a gun.
"It's not as easy and it's not like you grab it and you poke a perforated edge out and you have a gun that does mass shootings. It's very hard to do and it takes a decent amount of talent. You have to buy special jigs, you got to buy a router, you have to buy some specialties tools for ghost guns," Stapleton said.
The president is also nominating a new ATF Director, a prominent gun control advocate.
Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder and Billings Police Department Lieutenant Brandon Wooley both say they haven't had any experiences with ghost guns in our area.
Also, among the actions announced Thursday, Red Flag laws. These are on the books in many states in our nation, but not here in Montana.
Red Flag laws are intended to give family members more power to keep a loved one in crisis from having the means to hurt themselves or others. Essentially, their report could prompt local authorities to temporarily withhold fire arms from a person in crisis.
Stapleton says that good intention, however, could have serious consequences. He believes restricting guns isn't the solution.
"It's not a gun issue, it's a mental health issue. Banning guns isn't going to take them out of the hands of criminals. Bad guys are still going to do bad things," he said.
Even as President Biden issued the orders, a number of bills currently going through the Montana legislature address gun control attempts.
For example, House Bill 258 would prohibit enforcing a federal ban or regulation of firearms, magazines and ammunition in Montana. The bill is on its way to Governor Greg Gianforte after passing through both the House and the Senate.
Yet, there’s still questions as to how these laws can conflict with the citizen’s second amendment right.
“Taking my guns away from me, how is that going to help me defend my family? How is that going to help me defend my two-year-old daughter," Stapleton said.
At this point, until legislation is drafted in compliance with President Biden's orders, it's a hurry up and wait situation for Montanans.