A “ghost gun” is any firearm privately assembled from a DIY build kit. These kits typically include certain amounts of finished pieces and one unfinished piece. Users must work the unfinished parts into a fully functioning piece using their own drilling/milling machinery, usually a frame or lower receiver that will require the purchaser to complete it before the weapon is usable.
Ghost guns are typically homemade and the parts needed to build these firearms are widely available for purchase without a background check. Because of current federal gun regulations, these do-it-yourself components do not have serial numbers, and this is what makes build kits or individual parts accessible to civilians without the need for any paperwork or the standard background check they would require if they were purchasing a gun from a federally licensed dealer.
All licensed gun manufacturers and importers are required to engrave identification information, including serial number, model and make, on traditionally manufactured firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) requires this so that, if the weapon is ever stolen or used in a crime, the information can help law enforcement officials to link the firearm to the original owner. Locating the firearm’s serial number through the national database means that, wherever it is used, it can be tracked and accounted for.
This database comes in handy not only for law enforcement but also in preventing firearms from being sold at licensed gun stores and pawn shops. The shop owner simply enters the serial number of the weapon into the national database to make sure everything is above board before moving forward with a purchase for resale.
Since ghost guns are made using build kits or individual firearm components, however, they are not required to have a serialization under current federal laws. Similarly, anyone buying, selling, or dealing in these gun parts and DIY build kits for the use of individuals building their own ‘ghost guns’ are not required to undergo any background check.
The term ‘ghost gun’ was actually originally created by law enforcement officials, not the people buying and building them. The monicker would be adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice officials and cultivated by gun violence prevention advocates, based on various cases of individuals committing crimes using unserialized weapons. It is widely understood that this makes it difficult for law enforcement to trace firearms used to commit crimes, especially when compared to tracing a serialized gun.
The truth, however, is a lot less straightforward. There is a massive misconception about ghost guns being the de facto firearm of choice for criminals committing violent crimes. As these criminals attempt to beat the restrictions set by the government, however, they actually find new ways to get around the law in ways, many of which have nothing to do with DIY builds. In fact, there are more ways to obtain firearms illegally than you might expect. Theft is considered a bottom of the list option, since stolen guns account for only about 10% to 15% of guns used in crimes, said ATF agent Jay Wachtel.
Let’s take a closer look. One of the most common ways criminals are able to acquire the weapons they want is something known as “straw purchase sales”. This process occurs when someone with a clear criminal record legally acquires a firearm on behalf of someone who otherwise couldn’t. The intention in these cases is to report the weapon as stolen or lost after handing it over to their criminal conspirator.
The second most common method for acquiring illegal firearms is by using a stolen identity to bypass the background check and complete the legal paperwork. With this method, criminals can cut out the middle man and simply acquire the weapon themselves, before heading straight to a black market trade, which are confirmed the largest source of illegal gun transactions. The numbers prove that these sales typically come from legally licensed corrupt commercial gun dealers and at-home gunsmiths. As an alternative to this method, authorities have confirmed that criminals will often access guns through family and friends, as well, either through sales, theft or as a gift.
Just like bank robbers, focused on robbing banks, gun traffickers are mostly interested in Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). This is solely because that’s where the guns are, and the best way to commit a crime is with easily obtainable weapons. You’d be surprised by how large of a source FFLs are for illegal guns for traffickers, who ultimately wind up selling the firearms illegally on the streets after obtaining them.
And these aren’t small numbers, either. ATF reports show a significant diversion to the illegal gun market from FFLs filed by ATF. Of 120,370 guns used in crime and then traced back to purchases from FFLs, 27.7% from these firearms were seized by the law enforcement in connection with a crime committed within the two year timeframe of original sale.
These statistics strongly suggest that the initial purchasers or sellers of firearms themselves may have been engaging in unlawful activity. And it is worth noting that these numbers have been drastically increasing over the past few years. Case in point, the report reveals that 23,775 guns have been reported as lost, stolen or missing from FFLs since September 13, 1994, a time when, specifically, a new law took effect, requiring all FFL dealers to report theft/loss of firearms from inventory and collections within 48 hours of the discovery of the theft or loss.
When criminals are arrested, any firearms in their possession are confiscated by the law enforcement. Recent studies, however, reveals that many arrestees believe they could easily acquire another firearm illegally. This points to a disturbing proliferation of illegal, easily acquired weapons and many different avenues through which to acquire them. While law enforcement tries their best to take guns off the street, thousands of criminals, arrested, have been interviewed as part of a study supported by the National Institute of Justice. Theft is common, with 13% of arrestees admitting to having stolen a gun at some point in their careers.
However, key findings show that illegal market trade is still the most common and popular source for people motivated to commit crimes. Criminal correspondents were asked one question relating to the issue: ‘How they were able to obtain firearms’. This resulted in answers, as follows:
- ✓ 56% said they paid cash for theirs
- ✓ 15% said they were gifted to them
- ✓ 10% said they borrowed theirs from a connection
- ✓ 8% said they traded something of value for theirs
- and only 5% only said they stole theirs
There’s also a problem with accountability. According to the ATF, only about 8% of the nation’s FFL dealers sell the majority of handguns that mysteriously end up being used in crimes. These entrepreneurs work hard to squeeze in big profits through under-the-table gun trafficking. Cracking down on these dealers has been a priority for the ATF, says ATF agent Jay Wachtel, and they are working on establishing closer monitoring of all activities of legally licensed gun dealers.
Wachtel added: “Let’s be honest, if a criminal is willing to commit a crime
and wants to get a gun, one way or another they will find a way to get it.”
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This debate about GHOST GUNS is so stupid. First of all we have something that’s called 2nd amendment right. It’s unconstitutional to take away a right from a law abiding citizen, the right to defend his own land and the loved ones, all from his effort to make the tool of defense. Second of all, let’s say a robber came to your house and tried stabbing your entire family. What are you gonna do? Tell him, hold on sir let me call 911 for help real quck, and wait 10-15 minutes for them to show up? Those 10-15 minutes can be very critical. It doesn’t take that long for an intruder to kill you or your loved ones. In-fact criminals are scared of armed and educated citizens. So they would stay the hell away from people they know are armed.
Ghost guns are not even a problem. If you really think about it and take a close look at the data you will see that most gun crimes are not even committed with ghost guns but illegal ways criminals get those serialized firearms. We shouldn’t even be saying that this is a problem. You gotta be an idiot to think that banning so-called ghost guns will eliminate gun crimes!
If someone is looking for trouble, they’ll find it. If someone is looking to get a gun to do something with it they will find it too. All the data proves that ghosts’ guns aren’t even the problem here! Thank you for this great article.
Homemade firearms do not pose any primary problems to society at all. First of all just because firearm components are purchased without a background check and doesn’t have serial numbers on it does not make the gun more dangerous than a serialized firearm. They both shoot a bullet that can kill someone. I think the issue here is that the government is a control freak and they want to get into everyone’s business. They wanna know what you own? How much money did you get? Where do you live? What are your medical problems? Now they have siri, alexa and voice search devices monitoring what we say. I mean things are getting out of hand. More and more control is being granted to the government and that scares the crap out of me. It’s no one’s business what you do privately. These statistics, reports and datas clearly show that criminals don’t even use ghost guns in most of the crimes. They obtain their firearms that are not parts but complete serialized guns through FFL dealers. In fact most of the crimes are committed using the guns that were acquired by illegal methods that the system wasn’t able to catch. If you do some research there are reports on how many people actually go into the stores, purchase a firearm on their name and end up committing a crime. My point is so many news sources out there play the political agenda games, all to suck off the people that are feeding them. Taking away ghost guns will stop nothing, it will only make it easier for criminals to do more damage to society.
I appreciate conservative types of news pieces like this. It gives guys like me a hope that not every damn media outlet is a twisted, sick, mind control supperter. I am sick of hearing the same shit over and over. It’s almost like we have to think the way big outlets want us to think and I am sick of that.
So these gun control people are claiming that, since ghost guns do not require serialization, they are completely untraceable if recovered by law enforcement in connection with a violent crime. Please someone explain it to me. How the heck is a serialized firearm bought with stolen identity used in a crime traceable to someone that didn’t even buy it? Or how is a firearm obtained through “straw” sale a traceable firearm? Come on people. Logic here doesn’t make any sense.
I am not too concerned about ghost guns at all. We’ve proved many times that this is not the problem at all. I am more concerned about people getting persuaded by news media sources like CNN, NBC, and Washington Post. Talking about the dangers of these ghost guns and how we need to act now to ban them. Talking about how this will stop gun violence. Here’s the kicker, sourcing the facts that are legit but twisted. Let me give you an example so it makes sense. Take 25 arrests made in connection with gun violence this month and out of those 25 guns seized let’s say 9 of them were not serialized they were “ghost guns”. News headline goes something like this: 32% of the guns seized by the law enforcement ended up being ghost guns. Then you click it, read it and they persuade you to think that ghost guns are the problem. Followers that people are, they eat the info served to them and go out in public, start up the arguments, debates and word gets distributed just like that.
The mass media outlets are making the ghost guns sound like such a big deal. If you have done some research and have two senses in your brain, you’ll come to the conclusion that they’re not even a threat and calling them ghost guns is the dumbest thing I’ve ever even heard of. It would be more suitable to say (privately made firearms or home built guns) just the word ghost gun makes it sound like it’s only purpose is to commit a crime with it lol
Building your own firearms from the comfort of your home is completely legal as long as it’s not for distribution. If it is, you’ll need to get licensed and sell things legally. Sure, the percentage of people might not be law abiding citizens but I can assure you that there are more law abiding citizens out there than those who are looking for trouble. We got stats and years of data accumulated that back this up. People of our country have been building their own guns ever since our inception and this hobby has simply grown with time.
According to the statistics, which you can see on Giffords, 41,000 Americans die from gun violence every year in the United States. This number is not general and not even homemade guns. According to the World Health Organization approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. You don’t see the news media going crazy about this. Should cars be banned? Do your own research and really come to an understanding of what’s going on. If we keep listening to biased news and twisted reports we are not going to have a bright future that we all seek.
Ghost gun myths are just hilarious at this point. The fact that guns don’t have serial numbers on the and can’t be traced doesn’t make them more dangerous or deadly. It just means you can’t track the firearm to where it was first purchased. THERE IS NO REGISTRY FOR FIREARMS IN THE UNITED STATES SO YOU CAN’T TRACE A FIREARM TO EACH AND EVERY OWNER. Everything ends at the first retail purchase.
Take a look at the Holly Hill from around here. All guns used in crimes have been ghosts. That’s just Volusia. I can imagine what goes around in other states and counties. Along with banning the ghost guns, we also need to replace Governor Ron DeSantis. He thinks he owns the state of Florida. I hope we succeed in banning these ghost guns and making our neighborhoods more peaceful.
This is just a big hoax. Fact that people can buy unserialized gun parts online without any background check doesn’t mean shit. A criminal that’s looking to use a gun to harm someone will likely have no moral grounds and will manage to get a gun. This entire idea of banning ghost guns to stop gun violence is ridiculous.
These ghost guns are killing so many people on our streets. We need to put measures in place and stop these criminals from being able to easily build ghost guns at home from the build kits which criminals are purchasing on the internet without having to go through a background check. There is a reason why we force these gun dealers to serialize the guns so we can track everything to ensure public safety. If guns don’t have serialization, they can’t be traced. Finally legislation is getting established to make the transfer, purchase, manufacture or the possession of ghost guns illegal. This needs to stop and it will stop. END OF THE STORYY!
Nancy, clearly you seem like you aren’t well educated about this topic itself or you are just delusional and don’t really research things. I don’t wanna talk trash but it seems like you are just sucking down the information the news is putting out there.
I actually hunt from time to time as a side hobby and I can tell you from experience that building a functioning gun like an AR is not as easy as the media makes it out to be. Not only does it require a number of expensive tools but also individual parts that are also expensive and the skill of knowing how to do it correctly and not to mention the time consuming process of actually building it. It’s no doubt, there are some people out there with bad intentions who know how to build their own guns but these types of people are incredibly rare, as are very low percent of crimes being committed with these types of firearms. It’s much easier and cheaper to just buy a gun and as detailed in this article and numerous others out there accessibility for criminals to easily obtain firearms is there. They don’t need to build their own guns, they can just go get whatever they want. The straw sales are discussed as one of the most preferred ways for these criminals to get their guns. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because those who are unlawfully getting their guns through these STRAW sales are unlikely to ever even be prosecuted. So there are a lot of different problems out there when it comes to gun violence then just ghost guns being the main root cause for all gun crimes.
This is a stupid article. It’s obvious that you are supporting the side of criminals. First of all you don’t need to build your own guns or even buy one to protect yourself. Us hard working Americans pay a decent portion of our earnings to ensure the government provides us with the highest level protection. Guess what? They do. They respond to crimes quickly. They patrol around the neighborhoods to establish authority and to make criminals aware that they got our backs. Ever since these gun manufactures tried to make more money by selling these build it yourself kits nothing has happened but more crimes added to the crimes that were already taking place. This new ghost gun ban is a first step towards success. Then putting even more stricter measures on serialized purchases. So it’s impossible for criminals to even buy anything. I truly believe this will prevent many gun crimes and let commuiniotes live in more peace.
Look, let’s say you are a criminal and you know how to build a gun, and let’s say you are motivated to commit a crime. Do you think not being able to build guns at all would stop you from committing the crime? You can literally build a gun from so many different things, you don’t even need to have access to current components people can get without a background check. Criminals will always find ways to commit crimes and this won’t do anything to stop them.
Imagine arguing that the kits are dangerous because they are so easy to build that anyone could do it
then needing someone else to build it for you.
It’s nothing new that mass media with strong ties with political parties in current power are purposely criminalizing firearms because of their mere existence. What government doesn’t want their own people to be armed? The one that wants to control them. More control you give to the government the less privacy you’ll have and not only that but you will make them even more powerful than ever. If they decide to screw you, you can’t do jack shit about it. Take a look at Venezuela, what a great example to learn from but we care too much about where Kim Kardashian farted yesterday and following the drama of Will Smith smacking Chris Rock. Who cares? These things are simply a distraction to keep people entertained so they don’t care what changes in law take place. They condition the entire nation to literally live in the cave of comfort and to wait for the baby Government daddy to feed them. Shame on all those uneducated people who lack knowledge of the system they live in, laws they follow, and not knowing why they voted to elect someone they support. This collective punishment approach of attacking the ownership of guns is completely juvenile at best, and reminds of grade school when little Johnny would act up, the teacher would punish the entire class for his actions. Which is F$%#ed up on so many different levels. The lawlessness of a few people should NEVER negate the constitutional rights of the many. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed PERIOD!
I actually don’t know too much about this topic. I just happened to stumble upon this article as I was doing some research. I recently graduated from Princeton University and people in my school were so against Americans having the right to own guns. I started to develop my own opinion as I started to do some reach but yet still lack education in understanding what the true problem is when it comes to guns in general. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason the government wants to get these ghost guns banned might be the result of them not getting their $$ cut from the industry. If you take a look at this closely from the money side of the world you;ll come to the conclusion that uncle Sam is not getting a piece of the pie from this side of the world as we know how mad uncle Sam can get, they are doing everything in their power to go after them!