Ghost Guns for Dummies

Ghost Guns – “The unregistered firearms one can purchase over the counter with no background check”.

While President Biden is calling on Congress to stop the proliferation of such weapons, many speculate that ghostbusters may be a more appropriate resolution. Jokes aside, if you’ve read the recent headlines, you’re bound to have come across “ghost guns”. While they are more prominently known to be associated with 80% lowers, that is not truly the case. Ghost guns in the definition are firearms that lack a serial number and are therefore untraceable. Hence, “ghost”. This means that guns with scratched-out serial numbers, popular among criminals, are also considered “ghosts”. 80% lowers (for the AR platform), or 80% frames (for pistols) are more truly described as privately made firearms, or PMFs, according to the ATF.

All FFL licensed firearm manufacturers must serialize each firearm they make. However, private citizens, contingent on respective state laws, may also legally create their own firearms without engraving a serial number. As 80% lowers are not considered a “firearm”, anyone can purchase one without filling out a Form 4473, the firearm transaction record. That said, it is not easily converted into a functional firearm. Special machinery and sometimes a 3-D printer is needed - let alone the skills to work these tools properly. 80% lowers are commonly destroyed during the build process, and it is not recommended. The drilling work must be absolutely perfect; the jig has to be held very tight in the vice, and you need to be able to work a dremel very well. There is a reason most people leave gun manufacturing to professionals. For criminals, it is often much easier to utilize one of many other various methods to obtain a firearm.

While the Biden administration is working hard to deem these 80% lowers as a firearm, it is hard to say whether it will even be effective. In locations where there is a high amount of gun violence i/e Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, it is illegal to even carry a firearm. Despite popular CNN belief, criminals have been known to not follow the law. According to the DOJ in 2016, about 90% of guns used in crimes were obtained illegally.

During President Biden’s address on April 11th, he announced new aims to regulate ghost guns alongside several various other attempts to reduce the amount of gun violence in our cities. In such an attempt, if Bidens newly proposed regulations were to make it through, companies that sell 80% kits will need to run background checks and apply registered serial numbers. To put this in context, in 2020, 3% of the guns seized in Chicago were ghost guns. This legislation would mean that this 3% of guns will now be just as hard to obtain as the other 97%.

Ghost guns are truly not the problem. Furthermore, the reason that such weapons have statistically “increased” the past 4 years is due to the addition of scratched-out serial numbers into the same definition. It also does not account for whether these guns were bought and assembled by the criminal or just stolen/smuggled and distributed through the black market or illegal dealers. There are many issues that should be brought to attention in aims to reduce the current amount of rising violent crime, but further infringements on our 2nd amendment is not the answer. I forecast next year to be Biden’s attack on 79%’s.