If U.S. senators were hoping to give a lift to the Department of Justice’s proposed rule to redefine a firearm, they underestimated Ashley Hlebinsky.
She’s a historical powerhouse when it comes to guns. Hlebinsky testified before the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, in a hearing titled: Stop Gun Violence: Ghost Guns. Hlebinsky started by shredding any pretenses of false authority by those using loaded terms and ended her opening statement reminding senators whom they represent.
“Firstly, I will not be using the term ghost gun and that’s because as a historian I try to be as precise as possible and the term is used more as a rhetorical tool, a marketing tool and because of that, it can create a false sense of authority on the subject,” Hlebinsky told the senators.
Hlebinsky knows a thing or two about firearms. She’s the president of the consulting group The Gun Code and was formerly the Robert W. Woodruff Curator of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Cody Firearms Museum, and is now Curator Emerita and Senior Firearms Scholar. Before that, she researched at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Firearms Collection.
That’s why Hlebinsky wouldn’t repeat the politically-charged term “ghost gun.” It’s too easy to conflate with something that is invisible, undetectable or untraceable. None of which is true.
“If a person commits a crime with a homemade gun, they will be prosecuted just the same as anyone else. If a felon makes a homemade gun, he’s a felon in possession of a firearm and will be prosecuted. If a person sells a homemade gun to a criminal, that person will be prosecuted.” Sen. Cruz.