Untraceable “Ghost Guns” Can Be Purchased Online With No Background Check, Due to ATF’s Failure to Regulate
On Sunday night, a 60 Minutes report featuring law enforcement officers and the former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) showed that ghost guns––untraceable, do-it-yourself firearms made from parts available without a background check––are “a growing a weapon of choice among criminals.”
On April 30th, Everytown for Gun Safety renewed its call on the ATF to use its existing power to regulate ghost guns, and is rallying its supporters to urge ATF to act. Everytown experts on ghost guns are available for interviews.
Highlights from the 60 Minutes report, which can be viewed in full here, include:
- Thomas Brandon, former acting director of the ATF, was “ready to recommend” that the agency reclassify the kits and parts used to build ghost guns before his retirement. No such action has been taken.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva cited ghost guns as a top concern, reporting a 50% jump in the number of ghost guns being found in Los Angeles county investigations.
- One ghost guns seller interviewed in the segment estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 individual ghost gun units had moved through his store in the last ten years.
- The number of crimes committed with ghost guns is increasing “significantly and rapidly,” according to the ATF’s assistant director of field operations.
The rise of ghost guns is one of the country’s fastest-growing gun safety problems, with the guns predictably emerging as a weapon of choice for violent criminals, gun traffickers, dangerous extremists, and, generally, people legally prohibited from buying firearms.
In the past year, Everytown for Gun Safety has repeatedly 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. In April, Members of the House Judiciary Committee also sent a letter seeking answers regarding the measures the ATF has undertaken to address the surge in ghost guns sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 is necessary to provide a national solution. In February, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the ATF to take immediate action to address the proliferation of ghost guns in a letter he sent to ATF leadership.