Nation’s Largest Gun Safety Group Renews Calls For Executive Action To Halt This Growing Threat Nationwide
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Pennsylvania chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, applauded Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after he announced a new agreement to stop the sale of unfinished frames and receivers – the core building blocks for untraceable ghost guns – at gun shows operated by the state’s largest gun show promoter.
“Attorney General Shapiro has been a true champion in the fight to keep our streets safe from the rising threat of ghost guns,” said Erin Buchner, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We’re thankful for his leadership and for his tireless efforts to protect Pennsylvania families.”
“Ghost guns are the fastest growing gun safety threat in the country and allow people who can’t pass a background check easy access to untraceable firearms,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Attorney General Shapiro has led the way, and now it is time for the strongest gun sense administration in history to use ATF’s existing power to properly regulate ghost guns.”
Right now, the Biden administration can take action on the rising threat of ghost guns and support local officials like Attorney General Shapiro and keep these untraceable guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Unfinished frames and receivers are the core building blocks for untraceable ghost guns, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has failed to regulate unfinished frames and receivers that are easily converted into operational firearms, so the building blocks can be acquired without a background check and the ghost guns created with these building blocks do not have serial numbers and cannot be traced. With executive action, the administration can shut down the no-questions-asked marketplace for ghost gun parts and kits by directing ATF to ensure our gun laws cover all firearms, including the core parts and kits used to build untraceable ghost guns. Companies engaged in the business of selling these parts and kits would need to get a federal license, put serial numbers on the products, and conduct background checks on buyers – the same process as for those who are engaged in the business of selling any other firearm.
In 2019, Attorney General Shapiro became the first Attorney General to recognize that the building blocks for ghost guns are regulated firearms under state law. On March 8 of this year, Attorney General Shapiro and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrest of four individuals who manufactured and sold ghost guns in Philadelphia.
The action in Philadelphia comes as cities across the country see an increase in ghost gun recoveries by local law enforcement. In Philadelphia alone, 99 ghost guns were recovered in all of 2020, while already this year more than 80 ghost guns have been confiscated by law enforcement, according to WHYY. This session, Pennsylvania legislators, such as Representative Mike Zabel, and Senators Hughes and Fontana are advocating for bills that further restrict ghost guns, and address this growing problem at the state level.
Philadelphia is not alone in seeing a surge of untraceable, undetectable weapons. Last month, Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer and Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, announced a lawsuit against the Nevada-based Polymer80—exactly the make of ghost guns confiscated in Philadelphia on March 8. In line with a nationwide increase, in recent years, ghost guns have represented over 40% of firearms recovered in Los Angeles area crime scene investigations.
As cities have made clear in a lawsuit against ATF seeking regulation of ghost guns, untraceable guns are being recovered in cities across the country in exponentially increasing numbers.
The surge in untraceable ghost guns is a problem that federal regulators can solve, but because they haven’t yet, cities and states are left to deal with the consequences. The current lack of regulation and enforcement enables gun traffickers and people who are prohibited from owning firearms, like minors, convicted domestic abusers and those with violent criminal histories, to acquire all the parts necessary to build an untraceable firearm with no background check.