America's Problems Aren't Because Of "Ghost Guns"

(Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

So-called ghost guns are the big boogieman right about now. For a while now, everyone is acting like criminals are flocking to ghost guns. These are weapons that require a fair bit of work before they’re remotely considered functioning firearms, but sure. The bad guys, who generally can’t seem to do an honest day’s work to save their lives, are building ghost guns left and right.

But that won’t stop lawmakers from blaming their new boogieman, and it won’t stop anti-gun crusaders from blaming them either.

It’s not expensive or difficult to produce large numbers of untraceable firearms in the United States. Whether for private use, sale on the criminal market or arming violent extremists, it’s actually startlingly cheap and easy to mass-produce firearms that police can’t track — what are often called “ghost guns.”

For just over $2,000 I can buy a machine — not much bigger than a desktop laser printer — that will do the trick. If I’m feeling handy, I can get it done with just simple power tools.

As I discuss in a recent journal article about ghost guns, it’s perfectly legal to privately manufacture firearms without a license in the U.S. But it’s illegal to sell or give away privately manufactured firearms without a license.

A person producing a single “ghost gun” for their own personal use may not rise to the level of official concern, but the undetected mass production of untraceable weapons makes it much more difficult to map and disrupt the illicit markets that supply guns for use in crime.

Federal law does not require privately made firearms to have serial numbers or other identifiers, which makes it impossible to trace transfers of ownership — to “follow the guns” — when they have been used in crimes. They have no history and come from nowhere.

And that last paragraph is how I know he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about when it comes to guns.

The truth of the matter is that there are millions of firearms that are untraceable despite having serial numbers. Oh, they have a history, but whether through sales, gifting, or theft, they’re no longer with the last owner who went through an FFL holder. As a result, you can’t “follow the guns” any more than you can a ghost gun.

Further, you can buy machines that will churn out so-called ghost gun receivers but can also be used for any number of other purposes. They’re CNC machines, for crying out loud. While the Ghost Gunner is built just for making firearm receivers, it’s far from the only machine that will fit the bill.

Then there are 3D printers, which can churn out all the parts for certain firearms, but especially for “ghost guns.”

Yet, for all the hysteria over ghost guns, the fact remains that stolen guns in criminal hands continue to be the biggest threat on our streets. The reports of how so-called ghost guns are showing up at more crime scenes more often is usually devoid of any numbers or, if there are numbers, any points of comparison. It’s impossible to know how big a threat it is.

Meanwhile, from what numbers do get mentioned, we know that any problems pale in comparison to those of stolen firearms, which number in the millions.

What this push boils down to is a loss of control. It’s impossible to control a population that is capable of arming themselves without having to ask for permission. Unfortunately for anti-gunners, that genie is long out of the bottle and she isn’t going back inside.

If the “gun violence activists” want to actually address the problem, they need to stop looking at homemade firearms. “Ghost guns” aren’t going anywhere.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET