I’ll take ‘Answers in the Negative‘ for $500, Alex.
Is A “Ghost Gun” Ban Really Needed (Or Workable)?
Two Democratic congressmen are pushing a bill to limit so-called ghost guns. This runs along with a push to get President Joe Biden to restrict incomplete lower receivers, doing essentially the same thing administratively.
H.R. 1454, introduced by Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Brad Schneider (IL-10), seeks to redefine firearm kits as actual firearms. Currently, the ATF only classifies complete lower receivers as the actual firearm, which has created a cottage industry of incomplete receivers many people purchase to finish and build their own guns.
I know, because I’ve built one myself and it was a great time.
In a tweet, Espaillat said, “The Ghost Guns Are Guns Act is critical to addressing gun violence in the United States, and will undoubtedly save lives.”
Will it really?
See, we’ve seen a lot of news reports all about how the threat from so-called “ghost guns” was growing, but there tends to be a distinct lack of numbers. The few times they’re provided, they generally show that the “problem” is minuscule in relation to the broader issue of violence in our society.
Why is that? Well, I reached out to the ATF a while back to find out.
April Langwell, the chief of the Public Affairs Division of the ATF, noted that her agency was ill-equipped to provide any insight into how many such firearms were recovered. “ATF cannot provide a number of recovered crime guns that were privately made. For a number of reasons, ATF does not believe that the number of privately made firearms that has[sic] been reported to ATF would be indicative of, or representative of, the number of privately made firearms actually recovered by law enforcement.”
Langwell notes that the ATF typically provides tracing data on recovered firearms, yet many local departments may not submit information about homebuilt, and thus unserialized, firearms.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report lists, among other things, the number of violent crimes committed with different weapon types. While it contains numbers for handguns, rifles, and even fists, no information breakdown shows just how many of these firearms may have been ghost guns.
The FBI did not reply to requests for whether they tracked the information despite its omission from the report.
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