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Statement as 17 Companies Cease Sale of Ghost Guns Into New York

July 15, 2020

The New York chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement today after Attorney General Letitia James announced that 17 websites that sell firearms components have ceased selling the building blocks for ghost guns into New York state, after she directed the companies behind these websites to do so last year.

“Attorney General James has been a nationwide leader in keeping ghost guns off our streets, and New Yorkers are safer today thanks to her tireless work,” said Zoe Halaban, a volunteer with Students Demand Action at Beacon High School. “We’ll continue to work to make sure that no one has access to untraceable, undetectable firearms.”

“There’s no reason why anyone should have access to a gun that can’t be traced,” said Nathalie Arzu, a volunteer with New York Moms Demand Action and a member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose 16-year-old brother, Jose Webster, was shot and killed in the Bronx in 2011. “We’re glad that we have an Attorney General who’s taking action against these dangerous ghost guns, and we’ll fight alongside her to get these guns – favorites of white supremacists – off our streets.”

In January, Governor Cuomo announced that an additional proposal of his 2020 agenda would be to regulate unfinished receivers, which are untraceable and can be purchased without a background check, and the parts and kits that can be used to build firearms from unfinished receivers. New York Senators have introduced two bills – the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act and the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act – which would address this growing ghost gun crisis.

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.  

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.  

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