What is the problem?
A ghost gun is a do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get, unregulated building blocks. These guns are made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer. Ghost guns are the fastest-growing gun safety problem facing our country.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)’s current interpretation of federal law allows people who can’t legally own a firearm to easily buy the parts for a ghost gun. In less than one hour, these self-made weapons become fully functioning, untraceable firearms. A person can buy the parts and assemble a ghost gun without even receiving a background check.
They are becoming a weapon of choice for violent criminals, gun traffickers, and other legally prohibited persons. Federal authorities must act to ensure that the core parts for ghost guns are defined as firearms and properly regulated. States should also take immediate action to regulate ghost guns.
What does the ATF consider to be a firearm?
The difference between an unfinished frame or receiver and a finished, ready-to-use frame or receiver is a few tools and a couple of hours of work.
Why is it an issue?
Criminals can easily build a gun in under an hour.
Decades ago, it may have required certain technical knowledge and skill to convert an unfinished firearm frame or receiver into a fully functioning firearm, but those days are over. Today, with just a few tools and less than an hour, a person with no gunsmithing skills can take an unfinished frame or receiver and make it into a working firearm. Online sellers have tapped into this unregulated market, becoming one-stop shops for ghost gun parts, tools, and how-to guides. And these sellers openly promote that these products are not regulated by ATF. It should come as no surprise that ghost gun recoveries across the US are on the rise, and have recently been connected with criminal enterprises, gun trafficking rings, and far-right extremists.
By the numbers
There is at least one seller in 26 states across the country who is selling the core building blocks for a ghost gun.
More than ⅔ of the 80 online firearms sellers identified started selling ghost gun building blocks only within the past 5 years.
30 percent of guns recovered by ATF in California have no serial number on them, making it impossible for law enforcement to trace.