DENVER (KDVR) — An assault weapons ban was discussed in the state legislature Tuesday however, some say the law falls short and neglects an issue that is becoming an increasing problem: ghost guns.
The use of ghost guns in crimes is on the rise in the U.S., according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The attorney general admits ghost guns are flying under the radar.
Ghost guns are untraceable firearms with no serial number that can be bought online and assembled at home. This means there are no rules as to who can get them, no age limit, and no background checks.
The ATF calls them “suspected privately made firearms,” or PMFs.
The number of suspected ghost guns recovered by law enforcement agencies and submitted to ATF for tracing increased by 1,083% from 2017 to 2021, increasing from 1,629 to 19,273 guns respectively.
However, the ATF believes this data is just scratching the surface.
Ghost gun involvement in crimes is “an emerging issue, and law enforcement agencies are just beginning to institute uniform training on the recognition, identification, and reporting of PMFs that can lead to more accurate data being collected.”
The dramatic rise in ghost guns recovered “reflects both increased criminal use of these firearms and enhanced awareness among law enforcement,” according to the ATF.
“The challenge is we know that this is getting shipped, and so we have to look for all the angles we can to address people who are selling ghost guns and the people who might be buying ghost guns, and to clamp down on this trade and ghost guns. We know that dangerous people are getting ghost guns. We’ve got to look at all the actions we can take to address it,” Phil Weiser, the Colorado attorney general, said.
Weiser told FOX31 unfortunately criminals will find loopholes in all legislation.
Right now, it’s not a crime to own a ghost gun in Colorado however, different jurisdictions can choose to ban ghost guns. So in Denver, ghost guns are banned. However, on a broader scale, a rule enacted last summer by the ATF is being challenged in court.
“Both federal action and state action is going to be necessary,” said Weiser. “There is talk about legislation coming, I believe that’s necessary to address this crucial scourge.”
Despite ghost guns being intentionally off the grid, the attorney general said that does not exclude them from the red flag law. You can get a red flag order and remove that ghost gun if you believe someone is a significant risk to themselves or others.
“Too many dangerous people have too many guns and we can’t solve this with one tool. It’s not just going to be a red flag law or a background check law. We’re gonna have to keep asking ourselves what else can we do to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Weiser said.
The trial is ongoing, but it is suspected that the Club Q shooter carried out the deadly attack using a ghost gun.