Media still fails to provide context on ghost guns

Media still fails to provide context on ghost guns
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

So-called ghost guns have been a huge boogieman for gun control advocates and politicians for quite a few years now. They love to tell horror stories about how much of a problem they represent and their friends in the media love to help facilitate passing those stories to the general public.


And one way they do this is by omitting a lot of context about just how prevalent these firearms actually are.

I’ve called them out on it before, but alas, it seems to be continuing.

Wednesday is the deadline for all Maryland residents to have their homemade firearms, also known as “ghost guns,” imprinted with a serial number as part of a new state law that requires the weapons made from untraceable parts to be identifiable and registered as firearms.

But, a WJLA investigation team discovered that laws like these, and even those that ban untraceable firearms, may be undermined by some manufacturers, as gun violence involving these weapons soars.

DeAndre is one of an untold number of victims of ghost guns being used with increasing frequency by criminals across the country.

“In 2019 I think we recovered approximately 115 or 116, and last year [2022] over 500 were recovered in the District of Columbia,” said ATF Supervisory Special Agent in Charge, Sam Ward.

Ward said in 2023 they’re already on pace to exceed 2022’s record numbers.

“Typically, what we’re looking at are crime guns. They’re typically recovered from someone they’re not supposed to be in possession of the firearm and often used in crimes,” added Ward.

A Department of Justice report published in January shows ghost gun use in crimes has risen more than 1,000% since 2017.


Now, let’s look at that for a second.

First, the ATF agent in charge of DC notes that last year, 500 so-called ghost guns were “recovered.” That means not just those used in violent crimes, but also those simply found on the person of people who couldn’t lawfully carry such a firearm.

Considering the size of the District of Columbia and the crime rate there, that uptick looks horrifying, but it’s still just a fraction of the guns that exist in the district. I mean, in 2022, there were over 3,800 violent crimes, most of which involved firearms, to say nothing of the legions of other firearms that no one actually used.

But hey, what does that matter when the DOJ says ghost gun use has climbed 1,000 percent?

Except, again, that’s a scary number lacking context. What the report says is that the DOJ got nearly 39,000 total suspected privately made firearms between 2017 and 2021, with just over 1,600 in 2017 and over 19,000 in 2021.

Now, think about the number of guns in criminal hands in this country for a moment. Do you really think 19,000 firearms traced–again, not necessarily used in any criminal action, but simply in criminal possession–is an appreciable number in a nation of 330 million people?


See, this is the missing context and this is why that context is needed. By simply throwing around semi-scary numbers without providing anything meaningful by which the reader can judge them, the media is simply engaging in anti-gun propaganda in an effort to pressure regulation of so-called ghost guns.

And, frankly, they kind of suck at it because it’s also pretty obvious what they’re doing.

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