It’s the wrong kind of spooky season.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants the federal government to more quickly implement rules to curb untraceable so-called “ghost guns,” as NYPD seize more and more of the unregistered firearms.
“Ghost guns are haunting all of New York, the city, the suburbs — you name it,” said Schumer at a Sunday press conference in Manhattan. “The evil gunrunners, those who make these things, are trying to find a way around the background checks law and this is what they use — it’s all legal.”
A recent increase in law enforcement seizing unregistered guns shows that more dealers are using loopholes to legally sell firearms in parts thereby bypassing mandatory background checks, according to Schumer.
“That means felons, spousal abusers, those who are adjudicated mentally ill, they can get a gun which they normally couldn’t under present law,” said Schumer.
Standard handguns bought legally must have a serial number and unique characteristics on each bullet they fire, but when sold in individual parts, often as DIY assembly kits, the pieces don’t have to bear serial numbers on them, making them hard to track.
“You can buy each piece legally or a whole kit that puts all the pieces together. It’s sort of like Legos but much, much more dangerous,” said Schumer.
The numbers of ghost guns confiscated by NYPD increased dramatically during the pandemic, from 48 in 2019 to 145 in 2020.
This year to date, cops have already confiscated 135 of them, indicating a likely further increase for 2021.
A new rule pending approval by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would close that loophole by requiring background checks for ghost gun kits and instituting the same rules for them as for other gun purchases.
The policy change has been awaiting enactment by ATF for a couple of months, according to Schumer, and would classify “partially complete” frames and receivers as firearms subject to background checks and serial numbers, and require people who sell these parts and kits to register as licensed gun dealers, meaning they would have to serialize key parts in every package they sell.
Schumer said the feds need to act now after a shooter opened fire in an uptown restaurant with a ghost gun last week, the Daily News reported.
“We’re asking the administration to act, close the ghost gun loophole as quickly as you can, get these rules finished, get them out, stop ghost guns from coming into our city, our communities, from killing particularly our kids,” Schumer said. “When it comes to ghost guns we want the ATF to deliver an exorcism — get rid of them.”
The ATF’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.