State leaders announce crackdown on ‘ghost guns’

YORK, Pa. — State leaders are prepared to mirror the federal crackdown recently announced on so-called “ghost guns.”

Gov. Tom Wolf joined law enforcement officials during a news conference in York Friday, condemning gun violence and claiming “ghost guns” are frequently being seized from crime scenes.

“‘Ghost guns’ are not subject to checks and balances that keep legal gun owners in our communities safe,” Wolf said. “The numbers don’t lie. ‘Ghost guns’ are being seized and recovered from crime scenes.”

“Ghost guns” are firearms without serial numbers and can often be made from kits. Those kits can be purchased without a background check.

According to Wolf, between Pennsylvania State Police and Philadelphia Police, 147 “ghost guns” have been seized so far this year.

We reached out to Pittsburgh Public Safety for local numbers. This year, as of April 11th, 16 “ghost guns” have been seized. In 2021, the Pittsburgh Police Firearms Tracking Unit recovered a total of 920 firearms, and 50 of those were “ghost guns.”

Now, Pennsylvania is prepared to implement the same regulation on “ghost guns” that was recently announced at the federal level.

That rule requires manufacturers to get federally licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver. It also requires background checks for customers. Further, gun dealers and gunsmiths are required to serialize and inventory any unregistered guns they come across.

“It’s just another tool that will help us in our fight,” said PSP Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick.

The federal regulation is set to take effect 120 days from April 26, 2022, the date it was published in the Federal Register.

It is, however, facing challenges. “Gun Owners of America” has vowed to take legal action, claiming, “politicians have made up the anti-gun pejorative ‘ghost guns’ to try and frighten Americans and justify their assault on your Second Amendment right to craft a homemade firearm.”

The organization claims, “Privately Made Firearms are hardly used in murders,” citing data from the Department of Justice, which analyzed “privately made firearms” recovered by law enforcement over a roughly six-year period. The data reveal that of 45,240 ghost guns recovered, 692 were part of homicide or attempted homicide investigations.