PA DA Sees His First "Ghost Gun" Case

The media, with the help of the ATF, are constantly screaming about the “growing threat” that so-called ghost guns represent. I’ve argued the ATF is actually feeding this, probably in some attempt to exert greater control over the firearm market than they already have. I’ve also argued that these firearms don’t represent nearly the threat that they’re being made out to be.


Much of the problem is a lack of hard numbers associating these claims. When they do show up, what we see is a minute number of these weapons turning up when you consider the probable total number of guns being seen in criminal hands.

What much of this “growth” actually turns out to be is that some people, such as a Pennsylvania district attorney, are seeing their first cases.

The type of firearm used in the July 10 double slaying in Snyder County is at the center of a statewide debate over the sale of untraceable, partially manufactured gun frames.

Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch said he’s been aware of ghost guns — untraceable homemade firearms that can be built with kits that provide about 80 percent of the parts — showing up in Philadelphia but until now they haven’t appeared in any criminal activity in the county.

“This is the first case I’ll have with it,” he said.

Christopher T. Fernanders, the suspect in the fatal shooting of his former wife, Heather Sue Campbell, 46, of Trevorton, and Matthew T. Bowersox, 52, of Mifflinburg, is accused of using a homemade P80 polymer 9mm pistol, also known as a ghost gun, court records said.

Fernanders, 55, of Paxinos, had to relinquish his weapons about a week before the murders due to a protection from abuse order taken out by Campbell who alleged in court documents that he threatened her life.


Now, this is a tragedy, to be sure. It’s awful what happened.

Yet, let’s also remember that Fernanders likely had this firearm (allegedly) prior to the protection order being issued. He failed to turn it in despite the law requiring him to do so.

Either that, or he built the firearm at a time when it was illegal for him to do so. I find that one doubtful because it takes time to order all the parts and have them shipped to you, then for you to build the weapon itself. I just don’t think that’s happening in a week, though it’s possible these were purchased prior to the order being issued–possibly even because such an order was likely–and then it be built. Regardless, building the gun at that point would still be illegal.

In other words, there’s no version of events that allows Fernanders to have had a firearm after the order was issued. And yet, he still did. That’s because if someone has criminal intentions, they’re not worried about complying with the law. They just want to appear to comply long enough that he can get away with whatever he may have planned.

While Fernanders still has to stand trial, some will point to his as some kind of evidence that “ghost guns” represent a clear problem. However, I’d argue that if the D.A. hadn’t seen one before know, it’s probably not nearly as big of a problem as many might like for you to believe.


The problem here was that someone shot and killed two innocent people in cold blood. How they got the gun is irrelevant.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member