Charlotte law enforcement is on the hunt for homemade “ghost guns” after the city has experienced an alarming increase in gun violence this year.
Ghost guns are homemade weapons that do not have identification like a serial number on the frame, metal plate, or the slide, and are thus untraceable.
If already assembled, the guns are illegal to purchase, but it is perfectly legal to buy the individual parts and assemble the gun at home.
In Charlotte, law enforcement is concerned the guns will end up in the wrong hands. Charlotte Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) Special Agent Omar Qureshi told WSOC-TV that he found a ghost gun in former convict Kaleb Elijah Young’s car while investigating the sale of underage alcohol. As a former convict, Young is not allowed to own a firearm.
“He told me he made it,” Qureshi said. “He bought it online and he made it. And he fired it and it works.”
The gun was loaded with hollow point bullets, which are more damaging than standard bullets.
ALE agents confiscated another ghost gun in June at XO Lounge in University City, and in 2019 recovered two guns in the hands of an 18 and 22-year-old in the Steele Creek area.
In other areas of the country ghost guns are also gaining popularity. In Phoenix, police have recovered 61 ghost guns in the past two years.
After recovering a firearm, its serial number is normally inputted into the ATF National Tracing Center in West Virginia, which determines where it was sold and to whom, but ghost guns, as the name suggests, are untraceable.
“The problem is, there’s no serial number,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said. “Nobody knows which vendor sold it, who it was sold to. There wasn’t a background check to make sure it wasn’t sold to a bad guy.”
Another problem with ghost guns is the lack of quality control, making them unsafe to handle.
“So, what’s concerning about these types of firearms to us is that there really is no quality control when they’re being made. So, the safety. Also the fact that we don’t know how many of them are out there. That’s probably the most of concerning,” said Sgt. Anne Justus of the Phoenix Police Department said.
Stein, along with other attorney generals across the country, are pushing the ATF to require people who buy ghost guns or the kits to build them to undergo the same background checks they would to purchase a gun, and to put serial numbers on homemade guns.
The ATF is currently reviewing public comments about a DOJ proposal on the matter, which would then be reviewed by Congress before the rule would go into effect.