Why Kidnapping Plotters Had "Ghost Guns"

The plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer seemed to have more in common with a bad direct-to-video movie than any real plan to capture a high-ranking elected official ever would. It included a high degree of stupidity that I don’t want to go into simply because I don’t want to help the next gaggle of misfits looking to score notoriety, but it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to spot those issues yourself.


However, in addition to some other illegal activities besides trying to kidnap a governor, it seems the plotters also had some of the dreaded “ghost guns.”

FBI agents found “ghost guns” and explosives during searches connected to an investigation into a group of militia men and their affiliates accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to a Monday court filing and testimony from earlier this month.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is now considering additional charges and has asked U.S. District Judge Judge Sally J. Berens for more time to organize and present their case to a grand jury.

“The evidence also included potentially illegal firearms and explosives evidence, which must be examined by FBI and ATF experts to determine whether additional federal charges are appropriate,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its motion for an extension.

“A ghost gun is basically a weapon that is created and has no serial number or no way to track the weapon,” FBI Special Agent Richard J. Trask II testified on Oct. 13. “It’s not registered with any agencies.”

Trask at the time said agents “very recently” seized two such guns that Franks enlisted co-defendant Ty Garbin and an undercover FBI informant to manufacture.

Franks “requested Ty Garbin and (the informant) to help him in creating two pistols, unregistered, and then also drilling out a lower receiver,” Trask said. “Those weapons were intended for an individual who is a friend of Kaleb Franks, who has a previous conviction. He is a drug dealer.

“They believe that he was under surveillance and so they were going to create those weapons and provide them back to him. They were going to sell them at a rate of three times what they cost to make.”


Well, it just gets better and better for these boys, doesn’t it?

Look, it’s important to understand much of why these ghost guns were made. I’m not about to excuse selling such a gun to a convicted drug dealer, but I am going to point out why this group, themselves, would have unserialized firearms in their possession.

See, while we don’t have gun registration in this country, we do have paperwork for guns sold through FFL holders. Michigan has universal background checks on handguns, which means there’s a paper trail for every handgun lawfully sold in the state. If such paperwork were to be centrally located, it could be combined in such a way that you’d know who has what guns.

More or less, anyway.

It won’t account for everything–a firearm purchased with a background check, then sold before universal background checks when into effect or moved out of state to somewhere without such a law and then sold, etc–but it’s enough to make some of us more than a little nervous. Unserialized receivers provide those with such concerns a way to arm themselves without asking the state, “Mother may I?”

In fact, unserialized receivers may be a key reason why we’re not in the midst of a civil war right now over gun rights, at least in some parts of the country.

For guys like these, who harbor some serious anti-government sympathies, it’s easy to believe they feared the government being able to figure out what guns they have and don’t have.


However, it should also be noted that there’s absolutely no way to have stopped these guys. After all, they were trying to build explosives, which are illegal, and that law didn’t seem to slow them down in the least, so why would a law against so-called “ghost guns” be any different?

Besides which, these are high-profile but isolated numbskulls. Most who build those guns are just average folks who like building stuff and like guns. That’s it.

Yet they’re going to be painted with this same brush no matter what.

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