I-Team 8

Crimes related to ghost guns are on the rise

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ghost guns are usually bought online, at a gun show or made at home with a 3-D printer. They also require at least some assembly by the purchaser. These guns do not have serial numbers or require a background check. 

A ghost gun can be a rifle, a handgun and everything in between. The technology to make these guns cheap and easy to get has exploded in the past couple of years according to Paul Helmke, the former executive director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 

“The ability to deliver the parts has improved so there has been a real explosion in the amount of ghost guns that are out there and when you combine that with the 3D printer facet, it has become a lot more of an issue in the past 10 years,” Helmke said. 

 He also says these guns are showing up with greater frequency at crime scenes. 

“And the main thing is people that are stopped from getting a gun because they have a criminal record, can’t pass a background check, this is the way to get a gun that is untraceable and getting a gun that you can use,” Helmke said. 

Garrison Burge, a manager at Beech Grove Firearms, says the store does not sell or take in trade ghost guns. But, he took the time to explain how they work. 

“Half the time, these guns don’t run. They don’t work appropriately,” Burge said. 

Burge also says some of the most popular ghost guns are AR-15 kits, called “80 percenters,” because they are 80% complete when delivered. The owner has to assemble the barrel, stock and frame for the gun. But the key part called the lower receiver where the trigger is placed has to be drilled out by the owner.  

“They essentially take a drill bit, a Dremel grinder etcetera, to Dremel this all out to then fit their fire control group into it then make it a 100 percent receiver,” said Burge. 

None of the parts included in ghost gun kits have serial numbers. Without serial numbers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) can’t track the gun. 

“Now with these ghost guns, with these parts readily available, readily shippable and bad guys can actually make the guns in the basements of their apartments,” Burge said. 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden’s executive action called for rules that would require key parts of ghost guns to have serial numbers, and he wants ghost gun kits to be treated just like firearms.