EDITORIAL: Crack down on “ghost guns”

New type of weapon sold with some assembly required is untraceable, easy for criminals to get

If you want to protect your home or family from an intruder with a gun, this won’t change a thing.

If you want to hunt with a gun or shoot at targets, this won’t effect it either.

Your Second Amendment rights are not threatened if the state cracks down on weapons that can’t be traced because of the materials they’re made of or the lack of serial numbers.

One new and growing phenomenon in the illegal-gun world is the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns.”

These are guns that are sold in parts through the mail that must be assembled and slightly modified by the purchaser.

Often all it takes to make them operable is for the buyer to drill a couple of holes (the drill bits and instructional videos are often provided) and to install a metal firing pin, usually just a nail.

Since the buyers aren’t buying actual guns, they’re often not registering them or submitting to background checks.

So what you have is a new generation of untraceable guns increasingly being used by gangs and other criminals.

While ghost guns aren’t a predominant weapon yet, law enforcement officials are seeing them appear more and more.

According to a Times Union report, police agencies in the Syracuse area seized 15 ghost guns in the last half of last year, including 10 semiautomatic handguns, three semiautomatic rifles and an illegally modified fully automatic rifle. 

In 2014, the shooter who killed five people at a California college campus had built his assault weapon himself.

The federal government needs to crack down on these types of weapons by closing the loophole that allows the partially-made weapons to be sold.

The state also needs to crack down.

Attorney General Letitia James earlier this week ordered 16 online gun makers to stop selling ghost guns or face a $5,000 penalty for each violation. That’s a start.

And state lawmakers are introducing new legislation in January (A7847/S6230) that would create a new set of laws regulating such weapons, including making it a mid-level felony for anyone other than a licensed gunsmith to assemble or manufacture a firearm, requiring that all firearms contain at least 3.7 ounces of metal in a major component of the weapon, and requiring that all guns must have a unique serial number and be registered.

The law also would make it illegal to disseminate instructions for assembling a weapon or providing the computer codes necessary to make one with a 3D printer.

This is another one of those technological developments in which the government must get out ahead of the problem before it gets out of control.

For victims, this action can’t come too soon.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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