WSJ Article - "The Rise of Untraceable 'Ghost Guns'"

namedpipes

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I believe the ATF will take exception to that.

If one tried this dodge, pay a going rate rental fee or even pay the real value of the machine, since you're selling it back after..

Scratch that. Anybody have a Bridgeport I can buy for a dollar, wink, wink, nudge, nudge?

Never mind about the 2 ton truck I arrived in. My car is in the shop. These guys with me are just seeing how this works. Pay no attention to the pile of rigging materials on the bed on the truck :D
 

Lank

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The Rise of Untraceable ‘Ghost Guns’
An emerging black-market gun-making industry lets buyers bypass background checks and gun regulations, authorities say


BN-WV227_GHOSTG_GR_20180103122331.jpg

Homemade rifles, known as ‘ghost guns,’ are displayed at a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in Glendale, Calif., on Aug. 29, 2017. Law-enforcement officials say there is a growing black-market trade in these untraceable guns. PHOTO:JAE C. HONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By
Zusha Elinson
Jan. 4, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET
70 COMMENTS


Axel Galvez had a deal: $7,500 for five untraceable semiautomatic rifles. And he had a buyer: a felon who planned to ship them overseas. Now, he just needed weapons that would be invisible to regulators.

To avoid background checks, Mr. Galvez bought rifle parts, then assembled the five guns at the Los Angeles machine shop where he worked. He offered to build his buyer 100 more for $130,000.

An underground gun-making industry that enables criminals to elude background checks and bypass gun regulations is creating a growing trade of “ghost guns,” weapons that can’t be traced by police, authorities say.

Mr. Galvez’s buyer turned out to be a government informant; the 36-year-old machinist pleaded guilty in November to unlawful firearms manufacturing and dealing, according to court documents.

Ghost guns have been in the spotlight since a Northern California man, who was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a restraining order, killed five people in a November rampage using semiautomatic rifles that he made himself, police say. Other gunmen have employed the weapons as well. In 2016, a Baltimore man fired at police with a homemade AR-15, and Santa Monica shooter John Zawahri used a ghost gun in his shooting spree that killed five in 2013.

The number of these weapons in the U.S. is unknown. Because the guns bear no serial numbers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is unable to track them. Serial numbers and gun registration play a key role in police and government investigations, allowing officers to trace a weapon’s history and owners.

Ghost guns appear to be most prevalent in California, where there are restrictions on assault weapons that make it difficult to buy guns that are available in other states. But the firearms have been seized in criminal investigations in other states, including Arizona, Maryland, New York and Texas.

BN-WV229_GHOSTG_P_20180103122459.jpg

An ATF agent poses with ghost guns at the Glendale field office in August. The weapons appear to be most prevalent in California, due in part to the state’s restrictive gun laws.PHOTO: JAE C. HONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge at the Sacramento, Calif., ATF field office, said the weapons are “a huge problem in my area.”

About 250 ghost guns were seized or purchased in undercover buys by his Sacramento agents in 2017, he said. While statistics from the previous year weren’t available, Mr. Barlowe noted that his office has seen a rise in the number of busts. The ATF doesn’t keep track of ghost gun seizures nationwide.


“It went from being a niche group of people that were into the gun culture that were the ones making them for themselves,” said Mr. Barlowe. “Now, they’ve become so commonplace we’re buying them from 17-year-old gang-members on the street.”

The starting point for building a ghost gun is an “unfinished receiver,” a metal or polymer piece that houses the firing mechanism. It can be purchased online without a background check, because the ATF doesn’t classify the part as a firearm.

Buyers can finish the receiver with a drill press or a computerized metal-cutting machine and then add the remaining pieces, all of which are readily available online. Some gun parts can also be made using 3-D printers.

A finished receiver is considered a firearm by the ATF.

“There is a loophole under federal law that allows an individual to make a firearm,” said Justin Lee, a federal prosecutor in Sacramento who has handled several ghost gun cases. “That loophole only extends to that person. The person breaks the law as soon as they are transferring that firearm.”

Mr. Galvez, the Los Angeles machinist, now faces up to 10 years in federal prison. His attorney, Lawrence Strauss, said his client wasn’t any sort of illicit gun trafficker and “was just looking for a way to make extra money.”

The prevalence of online retailers and YouTube instructional videos has given ghost guns a boost, according to Mr. Barlowe. He said illicit gun dealers can buy parts for an AR-15 style rifle for about $700, put in a few hours of sweat equity, and sell it on the street for $1,000 to $2,000.

RELATED READING
One Elk Grove, Calif., man caught by Mr. Barlowe’s team pleaded guilty early last year to selling 92 AR-15 style rifles, five handguns and 88 silencers, all without serial numbers, for $264,500 over a six-month period in 2015

Companies that sell the unfinished receivers and gun-rights advocates including the Firearms Policy Coalition say law-enforcement concerns are overblown. People who make these guns are generally hobbyists who “want to build things with their own hands,” said Tilden Smith, president of 80% Arms, which manufactures unfinished receivers and sells them online.

“There are much easier ways [to get guns] that’ll appeal to criminals,” said Mr. Smith.

Gun-owners distrustful of registering their firearms with the government also are customers. “Unserialized, Unregistered” is the slogan for GhostGuns.com, which sells handgun kits, unfinished receivers, and other items. Kyle Martin, president of Ghost America LLC, which runs the site, said customers “want to enjoy their complete freedom as American citizens.”

The emerging market has begun to attract scrutiny from gun-control groups and state lawmakers. Mr. Martin’s company was recently targeted by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The nonprofit, which promotes gun control and fights gun violence, sent a letter to his web host asking it to shut down GhostGuns.com for allegedly violating the terms of service, an allegation Mr. Martin denied.

The California State Legislature passed a bill in 2016 that would have defined unfinished receivers as firearms requiring background checks. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation, saying the wording of the bill was vague and could have unintended consequences, but he signed a separate law that will make California the first state to require anyone who owns a firearm without a serial number to apply for one by 2019. The National Rifle Association opposed the legislation.

Write to Zusha Elinson at [email protected]
 

boilermaker

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There is no federal law requiring a serial number either to build or to later transfer the firearm. State laws may vary.

IANAL but once you transfer the firearm, it is no longer your gun and it better have a serial number and I think you need to be a manufacturer in the eyes of the ATF. SW is putting serial numbers on their guns to appease the Feds, I don't think they really care what the law may or may not state in say North Dakota.
 

Boris

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IANAL but once you transfer the firearm, it is no longer your gun and it better have a serial number and I think you need to be a manufacturer in the eyes of the ATF. SW is putting serial numbers on their guns to appease the Feds, I don't think they really care what the law may or may not state in say North Dakota.

you can make guns for yourself and at some point sell them. If you are making and selling guns periodically and systematically, then you are manufacturer. So how many is enough to set off the red flag? ... well, just see my sig, it's the same story with IRS determining that your business with constant loses year after year is really a hobby. It's all arbitrary and up to some bureaucrat, because these laws are bullshit just like the need for ATF tech branch to figure out which shoe string is a machinegun. These are artificial, repressive constructs.

We can go in circles trying to figure out how to be 100% legit and it's impossible. AG wants to prosecute your ass and you are not beautiful, you are f***ed, right or wrong. All we are talking about is probabilities. Do A and it's 50/50 you go to prison, do B and it's 30/70. These are vague laws that promote fear among the peasants by making them all criminals.
 

Len-2A Training

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Yup, to avoid the possibility of prosecution you would have to get a S/N through the ATF.

For a legal in-state sale of a slave state-registered 80% build you would probably only need whatever you typed into that system as the S/N. I guess it all depends on that system feeding into the ATF's system of S/N's or not.
There is no connection between the BATFE database of transactions and the FRB's eFA-10s . . . other than when BATFE was initially contracted (1997) to create the underlying FRB database by the then-Director of FRB.
 

namedpipes

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IANAL but once you transfer the firearm, it is no longer your gun and it better have a serial number and I think you need to be a manufacturer in the eyes of the ATF. SW is putting serial numbers on their guns to appease the Feds, I don't think they really care what the law may or may not state in say North Dakota.

SW = Smith & Wesson? They ARE a manufacturer and absolutely are subject to the S/N laws. It isn't to appease the Feds, it's to comply with the law.

There is absolutely no question that you CAN make a gun for your own, personal use and later decide to sell it. If that isn't a "habit" that the ATF can perceive as intent to evade the Manufacturer laws, then that is FINE and LEGAL.

It is a little murky whether the firearm must be marked at that time, but I can find nothing that definitively says "yes it has to be marked". And we all know (or should) that if there is no law BARRING it, then it is ALLOWED. That's why bathrooms sometimes have signs saying it isn't ok to solicit sex in them.
 

42!

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I know for a fact the ATF determined under Obama around 2015 that finishing an 80% lower with someone else's equipment constituted manufacturing on the part of the equipments owner. So its not a stretch at all that the ATF will use that type of logic: that selling or giving your built firearm to someone constitutes manufacturing.

I believe it was a little more complicated. My understanding (not the exact words) was that it came down to whether there was a "professional" involved. So:
If your friend helped you and he was a machinist, regardless of whether his home mill or at-work mill was used, it would be manufacturing.
If you did it yourself and the equipment, regardless of home or shop, was ever (while you owned it) used for business (make money off something made), then it was manufacturing.
On the other hand, if your friend has a mill at his house, and he is not a machinist and has never sold something he made (so he is not a professional by any definition), you can use his equipment to make your gun.
Finally, if you are a machinist you can't use you work mill but you could use your home mill provided you never used your home mill for business.

It was some convoluted BS trying to separate "professional" from home-made, and certainly a lot of it would be hard to prove and I doubt even the ATF would waste resources going after someone who make one or two for their personal use. But crank out 100 in your basement and they would be looking for any way to get you even if they couldn't prove you sold any.

Obligatorey IANAL
 

beaker

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No it isn't. It is legal to make a gun for yourself and at some point, come to the conclusion that "this gun's not for me" and sell or give it away. There is no federal law requiring a serial number either to build or to later transfer the firearm. State laws may vary.

If you made it with the intent to do so, or if you make a habit of doing this, you're going to get free room and board for a while.

I think I was pretty clear in the intent of what I said, "it is illegal to make and sell guns without an appropriate FFL". Clearly I wasn't referring to making them for one's self...
 

seanc

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Just wait for the ass hats working in a car machine shop realize they could just turn around to their muffler pipe scrap pile and start pumping out Sten type guns for like $20 a piece....
 

milktree

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Ghost guns appear to be most prevalent in California, where there are restrictions on assault weapons that make it difficult to buy guns that are available in other states.

This seems like a California problem.
 

allen-1

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SW = Smith & Wesson? They ARE a manufacturer and absolutely are subject to the S/N laws. It isn't to appease the Feds, it's to comply with the law.

There is absolutely no question that you CAN make a gun for your own, personal use and later decide to sell it. If that isn't a "habit" that the ATF can perceive as intent to evade the Manufacturer laws, then that is FINE and LEGAL.

It is a little murky whether the firearm must be marked at that time, but I can find nothing that definitively says "yes it has to be marked". And we all know (or should) that if there is no law BARRING it, then it is ALLOWED. That's why bathrooms sometimes have signs saying it isn't ok to solicit sex in them.

There's no FEDERAL law that says the 80% you completed has to have a serial number. And you can sell it. There may be state laws that present a problem, but that depends upon what state you live in. People who live in Massachusetts, for example, as many in this forum do - are used to incredibly restrictive STATE laws and think that the rest of the country is run the same way. That just isn't so.

As a Georgia resident, I can complete as many 80% lowers into fully functioning firearms as I want to. And if I decide to sell one of them, that's legal too. As namedpipes said, it becomes an issue when the ATF decides that I've become a manufacturer. Manufacturers must hold licenses and mark their product.
 

milktree

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Where does the "it doesn't need a serial number until you sell it" rumor come from?

I've heard it exactly like that with no variation for .... many many years.

It's not like a serial number on a home-made gun would mean anything when trying to trace it, it's not like you can look up Joe-Bob Home Machinist in the big book of manufacturers.

I don't remember there being any requirement for a manufacturer on home-made guns you eventually sell, but maybe I assumed that bit.
 

Mesatchornug

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Where does the "it doesn't need a serial number until you sell it" rumor come from?

I've heard it exactly like that with no variation for .... many many years.

It's not like a serial number on a home-made gun would mean anything when trying to trace it, it's not like you can look up Joe-Bob Home Machinist in the big book of manufacturers.

I don't remember there being any requirement for a manufacturer on home-made guns you eventually sell, but maybe I assumed that bit.
You're correct. People don't know what they're talking about
 

Boris

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Where does the "it doesn't need a serial number until you sell it" rumor come from?

I've heard it exactly like that with no variation for .... many many years.

It's not like a serial number on a home-made gun would mean anything when trying to trace it, it's not like you can look up Joe-Bob Home Machinist in the big book of manufacturers.

I don't remember there being any requirement for a manufacturer on home-made guns you eventually sell, but maybe I assumed that bit.

I believe that it's not just the "serial" numeric number but name of the business/person and address, like the import marks. I may be pulling this shit out of my ass too, after 22'000+ of gun regulations the whole "non-infringe" seems like a bad joke.
 

namedpipes

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There's no FEDERAL law that says the 80% you completed has to have a serial number. And you can sell it. There may be state laws that present a problem, but that depends upon what state you live in. People who live in Massachusetts, for example, as many in this forum do - are used to incredibly restrictive STATE laws and think that the rest of the country is run the same way. That just isn't so.

As a Georgia resident, I can complete as many 80% lowers into fully functioning firearms as I want to. And if I decide to sell one of them, that's legal too. As namedpipes said, it becomes an issue when the ATF decides that I've become a manufacturer. Manufacturers must hold licenses and mark their product.

It's the most universally misunderstood legal topic I can think of.

Everybody KNOWS you have to add a serial if you sell it, yet nobody has ever been able to post a cite to the law...
 

mcshooter

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Speaking as an Asian by popular assumption, we all use Waze.

We've chipped ourselves with cell phones and apps like Waze and we've invited NSA to plant bugs (Echo, Alexa, whatever the heck her name is) in our homes...

I refer you to the second to last line in my sig...
What is this Waze thing you discuss?

Asking for myself
 

namedpipes

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What is this Waze thing you discuss?

Asking for myself

Free App for your phone. Does a decent job of integrating GPS, real time traffic data and trip routing.

End users can pay it forward by noting locations of speed traps crashes etc.

It does give away marketable data about your travel habits. It's a privacy trade-off.
 

xjma99

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Free App for your phone. Does a decent job of integrating GPS, real time traffic data and trip routing.

End users can pay it forward by noting locations of speed traps crashes etc.

It does give away marketable data about your travel habits. It's a privacy trade-off.
I only use it when I’m going on a highway or somewhere I don’t normally go/know well. It can only see my shit when the app is running, afaik.

the best features are the speed limit thing and the cop locator.
 
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