US Brooklyn subway shooting suspect was traced to firearm. Is it a case for Biden's ghost gun regulations?
Biden names his new ATF nominee Steve Dettelbach
Biden is taking another jab at trying to get an ATF director confirmed with Steve Dettelbach, a former Senate-confirmed district attorney. White House also announced crackdowns on 'ghost guns'.President Joe Biden is taking another jab at trying to get a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) director confirmed as he nominated on Monday Steve Dettelbach, a former Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
WASHINGTON – If the Biden administration was looking for timely affirmation for its new, the case against may stand apart.
Among the crucial pieces of evidence allegedly tying James to Tuesday’s stunning attack is the 9 mm handgun recovered at the scene, bearing a serial number that linked the 62-year-old suspect to a 2011 purchase in Ohio.
The gun trace, authorities said, helped elevate James from a “person of interest” to the prime suspect in the attack in which 10 of the 23 injured suffered gunshot wounds.following and ordered detained Thursday pending trial on a charge involving a terrorist assault on the mass transit system.
Brooklyn subway shooting is not being investigated as terrorism 'at this time.' Here's why.
The Brooklyn subway attack renews questions about why crimes like mass shootings aren't immediately categorized as terrorism.But New York officials on Tuesday said they weren't investigating the shooting as terrorism "at this time," renewing questions about why crimes like mass shootings aren't always or immediately categorized as terrorism and how legal definitions don't completely capture the way crimes are experienced by communities.
Who is Frank James?:
'We got him':
Recovered inside a bag that also contained a treasure trove of other materials, including a key to the U-Haul James allegedly rented in Philadelphia and credit cards, the firearm evidence emergedrequiring manufacturers of self-assembled firearm kits to attach serial numbers so that they, too, can be traced to a purchaser and point of sale.
"Here is the perfect example for why this (ghost gun) rule was needed," said David Chipman, the Biden administration's first nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. "I think you would be hard-pressed to find an argument against a (serial number) requirement based on what happened in New York."
Person of interest identified in Brooklyn subway train attack that injured about 2 dozen people
Police identified Frank James, 62, with addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, as a person of interest in Tuesday's chaotic New York City shooting.But authorities stopped short of saying the man they identified, Frank James, 62, was considered a suspect. Police said he was not in custody as of Tuesday night and no charges were filed.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the James case is a striking illustration of the need for regulation of untraceable firearms amid spiraling violent crime.
Law enforcement officials have long expressed concern about the rise in crimes involving ghost guns. Last year, about 20,000 such weapons were recovered in criminal investigations, a tenfold increase from 2016, the Justice Department found.
Biden's ghost guns regulations:
As an increasing number of the untraceable weapons have surfaced across the country, some states, including California, have enacted laws to require serial numbers to be stamped on firearms. Meanwhile, cities also have mounted their own campaigns in the form of lawsuits and other legal challenges that accuse manufacturers of undermining law enforcement.
Police focus on van renter in Brooklyn subway shooting probe
NEW YORK (AP) — A gunman wearing a gas mask set off smoke grenades and fired a barrage of bullets inside a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn, wounding at least 10 people Tuesday, authorities said. Police were trying to track down the renter of a van possibly connected to the violence. Chief of Detectives James Essig said investigators weren't sure whether the man, identified as Frank R. James, 62, had any link to the subway attack. AuthoritiesChief of Detectives James Essig said investigators weren't sure whether the man, identified as Frank R. James, 62, had any link to the subway attack.
The new regulations, which already have drawn opposition from gun rights groups, include requirements to attach serial numbers on ghost guns already in circulation.
Licensed dealers and gunsmiths, for example, will be tasked with attaching serial numbers to any unmarked firearm in their inventories.
William Bratton, a former New York City Police commissioner, said the quick trace of the Glock 17 pistol allegedly used by James "clearly represents an argument" for the new regulations.
But he said the vast numbers of such weapons already in circulation, along with likely legal challenges to the new rules promised by groups, including Gun Owners of America, could prolong "the plague" of crimes involving untraceable firearms.
Police still searching for 'person of interest' in Brooklyn subway shooting: What we know
New York police were searching for a person of interest they identified as Frank James, who they say left a key to a van at a Brooklyn subway station.Officials with the New York City Police Department identified Frank James, 62, but stopped short of saying the man was a suspect in the shooting Tuesday morning.
"I think it is too soon to tell what effect this executive action might have," Bratton said. "It could take months. We don't have any idea of how many guns are out there now."
Gun Owners of America have cast the administration's action as an attempt to create a national gun registry, vowing an aggressive legal challenge
"We plan on fighting this tooth and nail in the courts, as well as, in the halls of Congress," the group said earlier this week.
The National Rifle Association downplayed the significance of the gun evidence allegedly linking James to the attack, referring to a bounty of other materials recovered at the scene detailed in accounts of the suspect's arrest.
“The fact remains he was apprehended because he was recognized and even made a call to the tip line himself," NRA spokesperson Amy Hunter said. "Any suggestion to the contrary ignores this salient point.”
While law enforcement analysts agreed that the subway case highlighted an ideal outcome for serialized guns, they also acknowledged that quick traces to an actual suspect are not always possible, even with appropriately marked weapons.
Brooklyn subway shooting:
It is not uncommon for investigators to encounter weapons that have been stolen from legal owners. In other cases, records may not be available from licensed dealers that have ceased doing business, even though such businesses are required to submit their records when they close.
NYC subway shooting updates: Suspect in custody, faces terror charges
Frank James, 62, was wanted for the attempted murder of 10 people. "We got him," New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced at a Wednesday news conference.
In those cases, the initial trace represents only the start of a search for the source of the gun and a suspect.
"It's not always as easy as it appears," said Pasco, who also served as a former ATF official.
By all accounts, however, the case involving James moved extremely rapidly, aided by an inordinate amount of defining evidence left behind by the alleged shooter, including the gun.
Within 12 hours of the attack, federal authorities completed the gun trace, said John DeVito, chief of ATF's New York Field Division. A photograph of the weapon included in court documents, showed scratch marks on the serial number indicating that "an attempt was made to deface the serial number,"
"We tied that gun utilized in the shooting to our target, and now we have our target in custody," DeVito said at a briefing following James' Wednesday arrest.
Chipman, whose nomination to head the ATF was withdrawn in September amid strong opposition by Republicans and gun rights groups citing his work for gun control advocates, said there should be no argument against regulations that might assist in the quick identification against similar targets.
He suggested that basic gun regulations should follow the lead requiring vehicle manufacturers to attach identification numbers to its products. In the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1995 attack on the Oklahoma City federal building, vehicle identification numbers recovered from rental vehicles carrying the explosives were key to pinpointing the bombers.
"If we regulated guns like cars, we give law enforcement the ability to hold people accountable," Chipman said.
Contributing: Michael Collins
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Suspect in Brooklyn subway shooting to appear in court on federal terrorism charge: What we know .
Frank R. James, 62, was charged with a terrorist or other violent attack against a mass transportation system and will appear in court Thursday.Frank R. James, 62, was charged with a terrorist or other violent attack against a mass transportation system and will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann in Brooklyn, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.