EDITORIAL: Time to close the ghost-gun loophole

In 2012, Canadian agents seized 226 illegal weapons -- mostly handguns. By 2015, that figure had risen to 316.
In 2012, Canadian agents seized 226 illegal weapons -- mostly handguns. By 2015, that figure had risen to 316.

In September 2019, two area men sold five short-barreled rifles to an undercover federal agent.

One of the guns had been modified to fire more than one bullet with one press of the trigger, essentially turning it into a machine gun. None of the five guns had serial numbers that officials could use to trace their owners or that would help identify the shooter should one of the guns been used in an armed robbery or homicide. And none of the guns, therefore, were registered with any government authority.

Who do you think these two guys thought they were selling the guns to?

A hunter looking for an advantage during his Thanksgiving Day deer hunt? A sportsman who enjoys shooting at targets? Or maybe a homeowner looking to protect his family from a burglar?

No, the only customer for this type of weapon is a criminal. Someone whose intent is to use it to threaten or do harm to someone without getting caught.

Maybe someone waiting to shoot up a school or a nightclub or a church.

They’re called “ghost guns” for a reason.

These guns can be manufactured by someone with a 3D printer or assembled from independent parts and gun kits that one can buy online.

Without serial numbers, there’s no way to register them and no way to trace them.

And  because they’re barely regulated, individuals with criminal records and others who wouldn’t otherwise pass a background check can get their hands on them and either use them or sell them other criminals.

While many states have passed strict gun laws, ghost guns have so far largely slipped through federal and state safety nets.

Legislative loopholes allow many of these virtually untraceable guns to be sold in New York and around the country.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that the state Assembly pass comprehensive ghost-gun legislation. The Senate passed such legislation earlier this month.

The bill (A0163/S0014) would prohibit the possession of ghost guns by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith and prohibit the sale of ghost guns entirely. It also would require New York’s gunsmiths to put serial numbers on any guns and unfinished firearms they manufacture or sell.

Anyone violating the law, including gunsmiths, would be subject to felony charges.

This law is specifically designed to help law enforcement protect citizens, not to deprive any citizens of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

No responsible individual would have the need for such a weapon.

Ghost guns only benefit criminals by helping them get away with their crimes.

It’s time for the Legislature to become ghost-busters.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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