Increasingly Popular Ghost Guns Fuel an ‘Epidemic of Violence’, says NYT

Untraceable "ghost guns" assembled from parts bought online "can be ordered by gang members, felons and even children," writes the New York Times. They call the guns "increasingly the lethal weapon of easy access around the U.S., but especially California," based on interviews with law enforcement officials in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco: Over the past 18 months, the officials said, ghost guns accounted for 25 to 50 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes. The vast majority of suspects caught with them were legally prohibited from having guns. "I've been on the force for 30 years next month, and I've never seen anything like this," said Lt. Paul Phillips of the San Diego Police Department, who this year organized the force's first unit dedicated to homemade firearms. By the beginning of October, he said, the department had recovered almost 400 ghost guns, about double the total for all of 2020 with nearly three months to go in the year. Law enforcement officials are not exactly sure why their use is taking off. But they believe it is basically a matter of a new, disruptive technology gradually gaining traction in a market, then rocketing up when buyers catch on. This isn't just happening on the West Coast. Since January 2016, about 25,000 privately made firearms have been confiscated by local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide... There is a huge surfeit of supplies in circulation, enough to supply dealers who sell pre-assembled guns, via social media platforms or the dark web, for years. At the same time, the increasing availability of 3-D printers, which can create the plastic and metal components of guns, has opened a new backdoor source of illegal weapons for gangs and drug dealers who would otherwise have to steal them. "This isn't going away," said Los Angeles city attorney, Mike Feuer... Brian Muhammad, who works with at-risk young people in Stockton, said he recently asked a group of teenagers where they got their guns. "Did you drive to Vegas?" he asked, referring to Nevada's looser gun laws. They looked at him as if he were crazy. "Who would do that?" one of them replied. "You order them in pieces using your phone."

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