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Ghost Guns: A Weapon of Choice for White Supremacists Arrested Ahead of Virginia Rally

January 27, 2020

Last week, the FBI arrested three members of the white supremacist group The Base who were allegedly planning to start a race war at Monday’s gun extremist rally in Richmond, VA. The FBI’s investigation revealed that at least one weapon in their arsenal was a ghost gun —an untraceable, unserialized gun made from parts that are currently unregulated by the ATF and are readily available for purchase without a background check. Experts from Everytown for Gun Safety are available to discuss the disturbing connection between white supremacist groups and the proliferation of untraceable, DIY ghost guns. 

The Trace’s Alain Stephens writes

“The arrest of a white supremacist cell before the Richmond gun rally shows how extremist motives are colliding with easy access to ghost guns, homemade silencers, and unregulated tactical accessories.

According to surveillance records, federal authorities had months before infiltrated The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, where members discussed a variety of methods to arm themselves for the impending race war they hoped to kick off…On multiple occasions, FBI surveillance caught Lemley, Mathews, and other Base members discussing how to piece together rifles…[Mathews’] internet search history included queries for “How to build your own AR-15” and “Complete AR-15 Firearms,” as well as a search for a large online gun dealer known for selling ghost gun materials.” 

This is another link in the chain connecting white supremacist groups to the ghost gun industry. Cody Wilson –– the man at the forefront of the downloadable gun movement, a registered sex-offender, and “self-described anarchist” — was called a “brother in arms” by The Daily Stormer for his work to faciliate online donations to those espousing hate.

In December, Everytown for Gun Safety called on the ATF to use its existing power to clarify that ghost gun parts should be regulated like firearms and thus subject to a background check. Across the country, states like California, New Jersey, and Connecticut have taken action to quell the threat of ghost guns — but a broad action from the ATF could provide a national solution.

This year, officials in New York and Pennsylvania have made ghost guns a priority issue. Last Tuesday, a Rhode Island Senate Committee moved a bill forward that would regulate ghost guns. 

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