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Pennsylvania Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Ghost Gun Shooting in Snyder County

July 16, 2020

The Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after new reporting indicated that a “ghost gun was used to kill a woman and her date [Heather Campbell and Matthew Bowersox] outside a Buffalo Wild Wings in Snyder County Friday evening.” The alleged shooter was Campbell’s ex-husband.

“This tragic shooting highlights the inherent danger that ghost guns present,” said Marybeth Christiansen, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The shooter shouldn’t have been able to access a gun – but thanks to our lax gun laws, he was able to.” 

“There’s no good reason why someone should want an untraceable, undetectable firearm,” said Catie Jacobson, a volunteer with Central Susquehanna Valley Students Demand Action. “We need to take action on every level to make sure that no one can access them.”

Reports indicate that the shooter “was not permitted to possess weapons because Campbell had obtained a protection from abuse order against him June 22.” According to the report, “[the shooter] also is accused of stalking his ex-wife. A GPS tracking device was found attached to the undercarriage of her car and an empty box for such a unit was discovered in his house, police say.”

In May, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund released “Untraceable: The Rising Specter of Ghost Guns,” a new report that underscores the danger of ghost guns. The Everytown Support Fund examined a sample of 80 online ghost gun part sellers and more than 100 federal prosecutions involving ghost guns, finding that ghost guns are easier to buy than ever before and are frequently possessed by those prohibited from owning firearms, tied to criminal activity, and used by white supremacists, gun traffickers, convicted felons, and minors. 

In December, Everytown for Gun Safety demanded the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) correct its own failure to regulate untraceable ghost guns in the form of a petition for rulemaking. Everytown’s petition urges the ATF to clarify that unfinished frames and receivers are firearms and therefore are subject to background check requirements and other gun laws.  

Last year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro declared that the building blocks for ghost guns are considered firearms under Pennsylvania law and should be regulated as such. 

Unfinished frames and receivers are the core building blocks for untraceable ghost guns. The ATF does not require unfinished frames and receivers to have serial numbers, so the ghost guns created with these building blocks cannot be traced. 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. 

More than 1,500 people are killed by gun violence every year in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania gun deaths are on the rise, increasing by 20 percent between 2009 and 2018.

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