“Ghost Gun” is a term for an unserialized firearm; the guns are causing problems for law enforcement nationwide.
Without background checks, consumers can purchase kits with unfinished parts to create a fully-operational firearm. Some people are also using 3D printers to make gun parts for assembly.
Unlike a traditional firearm sold by a licensed gun manufacturer, these guns have no serial number.
Chris Louissaint, a firearm instructor with FTAC Security Solutions and Training, said the homemade guns are not illegal.
“Under federal law manufacturers are required to engrave a serial number on a fully furnished firearm. If the firearm is not fully furnished then by law they’re not required to engrave it,” Louissaint said.
Without the serial number, law enforcement officers cannot trace the firearm from the gun manufacturer to the dealer and back to the original buyer.
“The real issue is the amount of crime that’s being associated with the ghost guns,” Louissaint said.
The Bureau of Alchohol, Firearms, Tabacco and Explosives reports from 2016 to 2020, approximately 23,906 unserialized firearms were reported to have been recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides.
On Sunday, Volusia County deputies conducted a traffic stop near Deland. They found three guns in the vehicle. One of them was a ghost gun.
“People such as convicted felons or minors now have access to a ghost gun,” Louissaint said.
He said buying ghost guns is a loophole for people to buy firearms without being licensed.
Currently, ATF does not treat D.I.Y. guns as traditional firearms.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice proposed a rule that would update the definition of “firearm” and related parts for the first time since 1968. It was meant to modernize the definition of “frame” or “receiver” to close the loophole associated with the unserialized guns.
A report by Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, notes these ghost guns are becoming a weapon of choice for criminals and legally prohibited persons.
The organization is calling on federal authorities to ensure core parts for ghost guns are defined as firearms and properly regulated.