Op-ed totally misguided on "ghost guns"

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

Homemade firearms have been part of the fabric of this nation since before it was a nation. People bought parts and crafted their firearms for themselves all the time. Especially if they were particularly handy.

Today, some like to call these “ghost guns,” namely because they lack a serial number.

They also like to create as much panic about these firearms as humanly possible, such as this particular op-ed:

Too young to buy a gun? Have a criminal record? Can’t pass a background check? No problem, just go online and order the components and in no time you can assemble a lethal firearm. “Within an hour or two, you should be breaking it in at the range,” promised one online supplier. Worried about the gun being traced if used in the commission of a crime? Again, no problem, there is no serial number that law enforcement will be able to use.

It is absurd that there are no national regulations or restrictions governing these so-called ghost guns, which pose a mounting threat to public safety. The need to crack down on easily accessible and untraceable guns has long been clear. So let’s hope that a renewed effort in Maryland to combat the problem finally succeeds.

A bill pending before the General Assembly, backed by Democratic leadership, would ban the purchase and possession of ghost guns, firearms that are manufactured in parts and can be easily assembled at the home of an unlicensed buyer. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past but failed to advance. But there seems to be more momentum this year for the proposed ban, due — tragically — to events that have underscored the danger posed by ghost guns. A 17-year-old allegedly brought a ghost gun he had assembled to Montgomery County’s Magruder High School this month to settle a dispute he had with another student. A 15-year-old boy was shot in a boys’ bathroom and critically injured. Last year, Montgomery County recorded its first killing with a ghost gun when a 14-year-old allegedly used one to open fire near a recreation center in Germantown, killing 20-year-old Axel Trejos.

Yeah, that really underscores the danger.

It’s a good thing no one has ever brought a regular firearm into a school and shot up the place, right?

Oh, wait. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, and countless other mass shootings were carried out with traditional firearms purchased at gun stores and possessing serial numbers.

But hey, there was a kid killed with a “ghost gun” in a school, so that changes everything!

Honestly, this is nothing more than an attempt to try and use the horrifying story to sway public opinion without providing little actual data. Once again, a number is provided–264 “untraceable” firearms recovered last year compared to just 27 in 2019–but nothing to compare those numbers against.

For example, we don’t know how many were actually homemade firearms and how many were more traditionally manufactured firearms where the serial number had been obliterated. We don’t know how many total firearms were recovered in either year, either. I mean, if the percentage is the same, is the problem really growing?

Or what if the percentage was actually a drop?

We simply don’t know because the op-ed writer isn’t interested in providing complete information. They just want you to be afraid.

“Ghost guns” scare people, which is why they love the term, but homemade firearms are always going to be a factor and you’ll never prevent people from doing it. Yes, that includes criminals. But if you ban it, those are the only ones who will be doing it.

And trying to use a single school incident to justify it means we should just ignore the totality of data. That’s not something I’m interested in.