Saturday, April 13

What are ghost weapons and why are they so dangerous?

In recent years, US authorities have reported seizures of hundreds of ghost weaponsHowever, due to a gap in their regulation, they have become a growing problem. But, What are ghost weapons?

In August 2019, 34-year-old California Highway Patrol Officer Andre Moye, Jr. stopped a pickup truck on a highway for illegally driving in a carpool lane.

The driver, a 49-year-old criminal named Aaron Luther, had an expired license and was also not registered in the database; Moye decided to impound the vehicle and was completing paperwork when Luther took a military-style semiautomatic rifle and shot it.

Officer Moye was mortally wounded, and when other California officers arrived at the crime scene, Luther shot them at least 100 times before police shot and killed him.

Luther, who had served 10 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and other crimes, couldn’t have legally bought a firearm. But that restriction didn’t stop him from getting one.

ghost weapons
Ghost weapons can be sold as kits and are not traceable, because the parts lack serial numbers. (Photo: MDX Arms)

What are ghost weapons?

Luther’s rifle was a “phantom weapon”, which are assembled from pieces or “kits” or that include an unfinished piece; These require the buyer to perform some drilling for the weapon to be fully functional.

Due to a loophole in federal gun regulations, guns do not need to have serial numbers, and the kit or individual parts can be sold without a criminal background check.

Phantom guns in the hands of criminals are a growing problem for law enforcement. In California, for example, 30 percent of guns recovered by police lack serial numbers.

It’s easy to find both individual pistol parts and complete kits for sale online that provide everything you need for assembly, explained David Chipman, who spent 25 years with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (ATF).

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ghost weapons
Ghost weapons sold by parts. (Photo: ATF)

“Building a gun at home has always been legal, but it wasn’t a big deal, because being a gunsmith requires some serious skills and equipment,” Chipman said.

But now, according to Chipman, easy for anyone to build an untraceable firearm. “This is happening literally every day now, it is becoming routine for criminals and arms dealers,” Chipman added.

In February 2020, for example, a North Carolina man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for simultaneously dealing in weapons, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Five of the seven weapons he was transporting from his state to Virginia were ghost weapons, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice.

Weapons and serial numbers

Although it is fairly easy to produce parts that fit the legal loophole, according to the website of the Federal Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF, some companies sell supposedly blank receivers or frames that are actually finished up to the point that they qualify as regulated firearms.

“Depending on the circumstances, ATF may open a criminal investigation or take other enforcement action when it becomes aware that a person is involved in the firearms trafficking business without a license or with out-of-state residents, to include sale without a license. of firearm frames or receivers on the Internet, “explains Gwathmey.

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They can be sold in kits and assembled at home. (Photo: MDX Arms)

Is it illegal to carry a weapon that does not have a serial number?

Guns that don’t have serial numbers are illegal, so carrying these types of weapons is also illegal. The only exception to this rule is antique firearms, but the caliber and ammunition must be out of date for a pistol to be considered antique.

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Because ghost weapons do not have a serial number, they cannot be traced.

3D printers can be used to print frames and receivers to complete the assembly of phantom weapons. Although the parts are made of plastic, they can easily fire at least 1,000 to 2,000 rounds.

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