The number of untraceable “ghost guns” built from kits and seized by police has begun to surge in Washington, D.C., and some other areas nationwide, raising concerns that firearm traffickers have found a new way to bypass background checks, the Washington Post reports. D.C. police said such guns were used in three killings in recent years. Officers last year took 116 ghost guns off the streets, compared with just three in 2017. Police in Philadelphia, Baltimore and suburban Maryland said they are seeing more of the weapons. The kits can be purchased without the background checks and other requirements needed to buy fully operational guns. Assembling a gun out of parts obtained through a gun dealer or the Internet is largely legal, and results in a weapon with no serial number or traceable link to a gun manufacturer,
Four states have enacted laws regulating or prohibiting such guns, including California, which has endured three mass shootings by people using ghost guns. On Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is proposing emergency legislation to ban the kits and parts used to make ghost guns. Gun manufacturers don’t see the need to regulate ghost guns, and say law enforcement should focus on those who deal or use them illegally. Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association of gunmakers, said, “If you don’t have a [federal firearms] license, you’re a criminal, and the industry wants to see those people stopped and prosecuted.” There are two types of ghost guns: those made out of plastic with 3-D printers, and those made with kits that supply 80 percent of the gun already cut out of metal or polymer. Some minor drilling and milling is needed to add the top 20 percent.