NYPD Finds More “Ghost Guns” – Assembled From Kits Without Serial Numbers, Sold Without Background Checks
Ghost guns are scary, and the NYPD finds so many untraceable guns that they devote a team of investigators to finding them.
Do-it-yourself guns – which mirror the typical $ 250 to $ 500 cost of a ready-to-fire handgun – don’t have a serial number that allows cops to track who bought and sold them.
They are sold in pieces. Buyers then assemble the parts to make guns.
Judging from a manufacturer’s website, you need to know what you’re doing to assemble their guns – an online video shows buyers how to use a hand drill and drill press to assemble one of their frames weapons.
Gun frames, barrels, slides and other parts are sold separately.
But gun parts can often be purchased without background checks – a dream come true for people trying to circumvent sales restrictions, including those convicted of felony or mentally ill.
NYPD Assistant Inspector Courtney Nilan of the Intelligence Bureau said online kits are an alternative to buying guns on the “Iron Pipeline,” the name cops give to the stretch of. I-95 in the Southeast where New York criminals buy guns in states with less restrictive gun laws.
“It’s an easy iron pipeline,” Nilan said. “It’s so easy. You don’t have to drive anywhere.
“You can sit at home behind a computer or on a cell phone and order an unlimited supply of [frames] and parts to build a large amount of guns.
So far in 2021, the NYPD has recovered 135 phantom weapons and 45 executives – numbers that have cops believe they will find more than the previous record of 145 last year.
Cops recovered 48 ghost guns in 2019 and 17 in 2018.
On Monday, Nilan investigators obtained another case after Isamuel Alcantara, 25, was accused of using a phantom weapon to shoot four other customers outside a 10th Avenue salon in Inwood.
The weapon was recovered after Alcantara was shot in the hip by an NYPD sergeant.
The 9mm handgun, Nilan said, was made from parts sold by Polymer80, a Nevada-based company that sells gun parts on the Internet and through a network of gun dealers.
Polymer80 and other companies that sell gun parts have insisted in court that their products do not meet the federal definition of a firearm.
Former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sued US Patriot Armory, a California-based manufacturer, in 2018 after selling an AR-15 assault rifle kit to an undercover investigator.
The lawsuit accused Patriot Armory of violating New Jersey law by selling guns in the state. He also said the company committed fraud by telling New Jersey residents that its products were legal.
Patriot Army settled the case in March by agreeing to cease operations in New Jersey and paying a fine of $ 70,000.
As other lawsuits unfold, San Francisco banned phantom weapons on September 7.
New York City passed a law in 2019 making it an offense to own a gun frame, on which other parts of a gun are built.
Nilan said the law has helped bring criminal charges against gun owners, but what is really needed is federal regulation.
It could happen soon – despite strong Republican opposition to any restrictions on guns.
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms proposed in May to change the definition of a firearm and require serial numbers on phantom weapon parts, a move that would bring a regulations and oversight that are not currently in place for such weapons.
House Republicans complain that the proposed settlement is an attempt to circumvent the authority of Congress.
But David Pucino, an attorney for the Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence, believed the proposed rule would come into effect.
“Basically it will cut off the supply of ghost weapons,” Pucino said. “There is of course still the existing stockpile of weapons, which the rule will not directly affect, but it will do the really important job of stopping the supply of these weapons.”