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Ghost Guns Partly Behind Rise in Crime, ATF Says

Homemade gun seized by U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle in February 2020.

By Steve Neavling

Ghost guns are partly to blame for the increase in crime, the ATF told CBS News.

Ghost guns are sold without background checks, are untraceable and end up in the hands of criminals. In 2006, the ATF stopped consider ghost guns as firearms. 

“You can buy a box of firearms parts, and you can assemble those firearms together. And I’ve seen videos on YouTube, where you can see people doing it in record time — 20, 30 minutes,” ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson told CBS News. 

Seizures of ghost guns have sharply increased in New York City, where police confiscated 145 in 2020 and 225 last year, compared to 17 in 2018 and 48 in 2019. 

In October, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the ATF to crack down on ghost guns.

An additional 455 ghost guns were seized in Chicago and more than 300 in Baltimore. 

Richardson said the guns are ending up in the hands of criminals and gang members with whom law enforcement are familiar. 

“So what we’ve learned is that those people that we go after have an average of eight arrests prior to us having that contact with them,” he said. “In many instances, eight violent criminal arrests, so we’re not talking about people that are shrinking violets.” 


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