It’s a great term for instilling fear in the uninformed: ghost guns are invisible, untraceable, and might be hiding under your bed! Even as we speak, an entire army of ghost criminals are probably using their ghost guns to murder innocent puppies “all across the country.”
Jeff Rossen certainly seems to think so.
Rossen is a “national investigative correspondent” for NBC News, and he put together a report on “ghost guns” that, quite frankly, sounds more like a campfire story than a news report.
He begins where all good anti-gun stories begin—a “legal loophole.” He’s talking about 80 percent completed AR-15 lowers, which do not require a background check to purchase but do require a fair amount of gunsmithing. They’re often shipped without any holes for the trigger pins or space for the fire control group.
Eighty percent lowers are common enough in the gun world, but Rossen describes them like some kind of secret black market product only used by criminals. These guns “can’t be trace” and are also “untraceable,” Rossen panics.
“You cannot trace this firearm,” adds ATF agent Rick Vasquez, who assembles the rifle for the report.
While it’s true these guns do not have serial numbers, they’re hardly ever used for criminal purposes.
We know this for two reasons. First, converting aluminum blocks into functional receivers requires a level of experience, time, and resources most criminals don’t have. Seriously, check out these videos. Converting an 80 percent lower requires special tools and special knowledge—it’s not something Joe Thug can or will do on the weekend.
Rossen conveniently ignores this point. He says it only takes Vasquez “a couple hours” to convert the receiver, and, according to the video, Vasquez accomplishes the task using a simple drill. Neither the written report nor the video describes the process Vasquez used to create his “ghost rifle,” though this is the first question any unbiased journalist would have asked.
Speaking of bias, the most glaring hole in Rossen’s report is his assertion that “ghost rifles” are used in shootings “across the country, from Maryland to California.” Rossen doesn’t specify how many shootings, nor does he provide a link to the statistics he’s using.
Which brings us to the second reason we know most eighty percent receivers aren’t used for criminal purposes. According to actual statistics from the FBI, there were over 12,000 homicides in 2013. Of those 12,000 homicides, a grand total of 285 were committed with rifles of any kind.
Criminals don’t use rifles because they’re tough to hide. Murderers are much more likely to use handguns, which accounted for 5,782 of the homicides in 2013. Even the New York Times admitted in 2014 that “big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.”
Despite Rossen’s hyperbolic rhetoric, “ghost guns” don’t represent a public safety concern. The vast majority are used by gunsmiths and hobbyists for legal purposes, and Rossen’s fear mongering does nothing but harm the already-damaged reputation of the mainstream media (see another “Ghost Guns” report from ABC News below).