Fear Mongering at Its Finest: NBC Reports on ‘Ghost Guns’

“Ghost guns.”

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).

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Leonard Feinman February 17, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Many years ago, I saw a short news article about gun-making in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. I also saw another one from the Philippines as well that all depicted a homegrown manufacturing of firearms. While it is rare in the US, these uneducated people were making rifles that could pass a factory inspection. As I recall, they pointed out that the people doing this were mountain tribesmen, and had started off with a Lee-Enfield .303 rifle, but had evolved into the AK platform.
    The one from the Philippines was making handguns. They built a very smooth copy of a Colt .45 auto and showed how the parts are made by different people and then finally assembled and sold.
    The AR-15 lower receiver is the least complicated part to reproduce. They can be made out of aluminum, but it is not limited. The rest of the parts can be purchased by mail-order without paperwork. But, my feeling is that except for the satisfaction of saying “I built this myself” there is no real pressing need to do so. And, for that reason, most people won’t. Those who would know that they can not legally transfer that firearm, but it is legal to make.
    But, seriously, why bother. A serial number on a gun does not make it work better. And, the only people I could think of who might do this are serious shooters, experimenting to make a better or more accurate gun. Anybody wanting to build this gun for nefarious reasons would be better served if he just purchased a gun from somebody else.

    • Michael MacKay February 18, 2017, 10:00 am

      Yes, you can transfer that weapon. All you have to do is stamp a serial number on it, run the background check on the person buying it, and keep the record of the sale and form 4473 on file for like 25 years. I am not sure at what threshold the federal government considers it “gun manufacturing” and requires you to get the license…I think it has something to do with the volume of sales a person engages in that qualifies it as a business.

  • Mike Watkins February 17, 2017, 2:21 pm

    Big Bro knows! I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the Fedz have a more up-to-date inventory of my stuff than I do.

    I may someday try to make a gun from scratch just for the hell of it, but the Gov’s drones will probably be live-streaming video of me working on it!

    If there is ever a “revolution,” pre-emptive strikes on the majority of us with the “wrong” opinions, plus the “wrong” kind of guns, will end the revolt before it starts.

    Building guns “they” don’t know about is a fool’s exercise.

    Our only real hope is to get enough people in Gov’t who actually believe the Constitution to be more than some outdated rag from some outdated bunch of “old white guys.” That of course would preclude most everyone in the Obama administration and their ilk.

  • Bill February 17, 2017, 1:36 pm

    Glad we have the Second Amendment to protect us, but we also have to protect it, by ANY means necessary. LONG LIVE LIBERTY!!!

  • krinkov5.45 February 17, 2017, 1:04 pm

    WTF?? The incompetent goof balls in .gov organizations such as the US Army BATFE FBI ect loose track of firearms domestically and overseas like in Iraq Afghanistan. Like having a recorded serial number makes a gun “traceable”.

  • D.T February 17, 2017, 12:05 pm

    I believe based on the recent election, many no longer belief the fake news that is controlled by very sinister people such as George Soros, however it’s the other 48-50% who do watch this B.S. and believe it. And if a lie is said enough, it will eventually be believed and they know this and is why they keep doing it. We bought ourselves a little more time but those who plan to take the guns and our freedoms will continue until eventually they will succeed but we must keep fighting until that happens.

    • Grendelwarrior June 17, 2017, 12:00 pm

      I agree with you, however I don’t see those of us left who love the Constitution gladly handing over our firearms and the 2nd amendment on our front steps when the world government globalists come calling. It is going to force a civil war, one that “We the people” will ultimately lose, along with America, as we will have known her. Also, for all those “investigative reporters” out there, where is the story of how the gun owning homewner captured the two escaped Georgia prison inmates that killed two guards, and held them at gunpoint till authorities could come get them. I’m sure the “news” outlets will be just as silent about the reward he has coming to him. As you well understand, these are the good citizens of this nation the globalists want diarmed, if he had been, he and his family could have been the next victims.
      Thank God, there was a safe happy ending.

  • Alan February 17, 2017, 11:39 am

    Well hey, we all know that the ATF&E is VERY trustworthy, what with Fast and Furious and the case years ago where they actually converted a gun not previously converted and introduced that as evidence against a citizen.
    Yeah, the ATF&E’s track record is SO good, now isn’t it??
    That’s one ‘regulatory’ branch that needs to be brought back to it’s original charter of regulating, NOT policing.
    The ATF&E is an ILLEGAL Federal police agency, and I hope it gets chopped by Trunp.
    Even several branches of Federal agents DON’T like working with them, due to their poor training requirements.
    One was quoted as calling them, “half ass Cowboys”.

  • Steven Parker February 17, 2017, 11:17 am

    Does anyone think that a bad guy with a gun cares if it has a serial number or not. Traceable is only for the lawbiding gun owner. I register all my guns with the manufacture so they can let me knoe if there might be a recall or something. If I wanted to build one I have the skills and some of the tools,but I would rather shoot and have fun with my time left on thhs earth.

  • A.D. Roberts February 17, 2017, 10:25 am

    Just how many people in the world or the USA are dumb enough to believe that NOT being traceable makes a gun much more sinister? Wow. Someone needs to go back to school and learn to think rationally. That is like claiming that IF you could eliminate ALL guns you would stop ALL killings. Anybody believe that? Talk to Adam and Eve’s son, Abel.

  • Mister Ronald February 17, 2017, 9:32 am

    There are millions of people that will believe how dangerous and terrible these assault weapons are and they can’t be traced.
    This is media propaganda at it’s best.
    Leaving out a lot of facts is what the news media does to make their story turn out to what they want the public to think and the hell with the facts.
    This has been going on for many years and is not about to change soon.

    • Mike Watkins February 17, 2017, 2:05 pm

      Please. You are talking like you expect liberals–the “main-stream” media, plus the sheeple who believe them–to suddenly develop logical thinking skills.

      Been well proven many times, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • Robert J. Lucas February 17, 2017, 8:59 am

    I saw the original report, the retired ATF agent has a complete workshop to complete his project. In the video one of the camera angles showed his turning lathe behind him. If the reporter was truthful and straight up, he would have built the kit himself using the hand tools that he described. He should have done it himself before opening his mouth of half truths, the majority of the build was not documented which tags this as “Fake News”.

    • paul hubenette February 18, 2017, 6:48 am

      Robert, I agree with your comments on this one and it is a perfect example of “Fake News”. I am not sure if it is relevant but the video in the report shows aluminum lowers, however at 3:19 they show, what looks like, a pistol AR15 w/ polymer lower as an example of what the Baltimore PD has seen. From my experience, the manufacturing of a AR15 using an 80% polymer lower requires a high level of gunsmithing skills to make a weapon that could fire one reliable shot. Seems like a non-factor

  • joe February 17, 2017, 7:46 am

    Fake news. Turn it off!

  • Lloyd Dumas February 17, 2017, 6:15 am

    Can’t make sense of all the hoop la from the gov. and gun laws, but I do know the bad guys haven’t a clue when it comes to the proper use of a drill motor, let alone a mill machine. There you have it, now they may legislate all they want to, but when it comes to my Bridgeport hands off.

    • Chris February 17, 2017, 10:13 am

      I heard they are going to be offering basic machine shop classes in prison to help our misguided members of society return to work after getting out…

  • shrugger February 17, 2017, 3:30 am
  • DRAINO February 16, 2017, 9:57 am

    They area going after “Ghost” guns because all their attacks on real firearms and facts have been unsuccessful. When you can’t attack something that is tangible successfully, then your alternative is to attack something intangible with emotion. Typical Democrat though process.

    • Tony February 17, 2017, 5:13 pm

      What seems to be missing in all the conversations is the fact that the anti-gun folks are scare as hell of 2nd amendment folks.
      They know guns provide the power to equalize and set right any and all assaults. This is exactly why they are so vial in their attempts. Little do they realize that the more they push the more apparent the need to arm and defend becomes. God bless America and our president Mr Trump! PS Keep on pushing anti-gunners, we will accept your help.

  • Mark N. February 16, 2017, 12:57 am

    “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. ”

    Really? I disagree. First, until the ATF shut them down, machine shops were holding “build parties” in California, where they provided the CNC machine and the program, and the “partyers” provided the 80% lowers. Pop it in, out comes a machined fire control pocket. Not hard. Some of these shops were manned by ex-cons. Second, a lower can be machined with a hand drill, I’ve done it with a polymer lower. And as long as you have a good jig, a drill press is better but not necessary. (see http://www.jtactical.com/AR-10AR-15–Ultimate-Jig_p_82.html: “The only thing necessary to get your project going is a drill press or a hand drill and router; everything else provided in your Ultimate Jig Kit.) So yeah, even a gang banger can build his own. BUT IF THAT GUY IS A CONVICT, IT WILL STILL BE ILLEGAL FOR HIM TO POSSESS IT!

    And this is only for ARs. A trip to the hardware store will get you all the supplies needed to build a zip gun–or zip shotgun for that matter. Plus there are home factories, usually run by criminals, turning out submachine guns in Brazil and Australia. Criminals can’t make firearms? Give me a break!

    Oh, and California has outlawed “ghost guns.” All builders must acquire a serial number from the State DOJ and have it engraved on the receiver BEFORE starting the build.

    • Mark N. February 16, 2017, 1:03 am

      I wanted to add one more thing. The lower in that kit in the video was a polymer lower.These are quite easy to mill, and some of them have their own built-in one time (plastic) jig. The result may not be that pretty, but it is functional and afaik, sturdy.

    • matthew martinez February 17, 2017, 3:12 am

      cartels will and have finished 80 lowers in mexico before. the average builder in the states has a hard time churning out as many as a dedicated team can. Id like to see the atf shut down the real criminal organizations instead of over policing california and trying to police our red states. i believe it was cartel de jaliso nueva generacion that was making these a while back in a neighborhood garage.

      • matthew martinez February 17, 2017, 3:14 am

        side note: the one ar i routed out took so long and made so much of a mess that it turned me off to that approach and i still find aluminum. ill stick to aks.

      • KurtW February 19, 2017, 12:55 pm

        WHY would any criminal, in Mexico or elsewhere, bother with the 80% route, when any stolen (or so nicely provided by obama and holder) gun can be made just as “untraceable” in less than a minute with a Dremel?

        What a load of idiocy being used to generate fear. At least the “ghost gun” rant of that idiot representative from Kalifornia was amusing…and still is.

    • Rollin Shultz February 17, 2017, 9:18 am

      good jig and a drill press? Tell us how you did the mag well.

  • Will Drider February 15, 2017, 11:53 am

    Everything you need to know about firearm tracing and the true fallacy of it. Facts the gun grabbers don’t want you to know as it blows big holes in their arguements.

    • Mark N. February 16, 2017, 1:23 am

      A bit out of date, but still very true. Two things should be highlighted: One, every gun seize at the scene of a crime–usually a drug raid, is automatically defined as a “crime gun,” whether or not that particular firearm has ever been used to commit a crime, such as assault, robbery or murder. In short, as the article states, most “crime guns”, even those taken from criminals, are possessory offenses. Second, crime guns used to commit crimes are, I believe, more often than not stolen, such that a trace is a useless exercise.

  • Will Drider February 15, 2017, 11:21 am

    Ghost guns = untracable. This is a “new big deal problem”? The majority of guns that have had multiple owners as they are bought and resold can not be traced to their current owner. Even tyrannical anti gun States that now require all transfer be NICS checked requiring a FFL (and firearm logged in his records) can’t trace them because of the broken link and Feds can’t legally retain this data. So Feds can only trace from Mfg to Dist to first owner (if sale was after 1968) and thats as far as it goes for every gun. Some people use Bill of sale and trace could go a step forward. It only take one sale without a bill of sale (which is not required by Fed Law) and the trace dead ends without finding the current owner just like a evil Ghost Gun. Serial numbers weren’t mandatory till 1968 either! Now consider how many firearms in the U.S. are truely untraceable to the point of providing a investigative benifit to LE?

    On thuggies manufacturing Ghost guns its a fools arguement. Why build when a stolen gun or one with a obliterated serial# (much easier to do) is untracable to them? Some might say if a Ghost Gun is found in a thuggies car it can’t be traced? So what. If thuggie is a restriced person he gets tagged, if not no harm no foul. If the Ghost Gun is stolen then recovered, the legal owner will never get it back. If you build one, put unique identifying marks on it. If you engrave LUCY on it no Gov Agency has that info but it can aid in identification and return if stolen AND you provide that info.

  • Justin Opinion February 15, 2017, 10:11 am

    Cameraman downrange is a cute touch.

  • IYearn4nARnCali February 15, 2017, 2:50 am

    The preeminent argument against 80% receivers, is that ANYONE who purchases one is a criminal because the hypothetical rifle built around each one is UNREGISTERED. As if a serial number, or a line item in a government database is capable of stopping a bullet, a terrorist, a murderer, a rapist, a home invader, a what have you. The sheer audacity of these anti-gun fear mongers is that ONLY through careful oversight by the bloated, corrupt, illegally prying surveillance state, are WE the PEOPLE able to exercise our rights; and that such a sentiment is in any way consistent with the Constitution.

    The reason to purchase such a block of metal is PRIVACY. The government need NEVER know when we buy condoms, tampons, hair spray, booze, glasses, toaster ovens, cellphones, or any other product. It is OUR business what we buy, from whom, AND whatever we decide to do with our private property need never be APPROVED, SANCTIONED, OKAYED, REGISTERED, VERIFIED, etc… Our property is OURS, piss off govt. Once YOU start PROVING to US where OUR money goes, THEN you can start asking us about OUR purchases. As long as we do not infringe the civil rights of our fellow citizens whilst using our private property, as long as we cause harm to none, there is no reason for the bureaucratic leeches to know what we do, what we buy, whom we spend time with, or what we say. The US Constitution LIMITS what the govt is able to do, and for the last 40 years +. that sentiment has meant nothing to the ever expanding federal government.

  • SuperG February 14, 2017, 10:57 am

    People underestimate our government. Do you really think that a known seller of 80% lowers isn’t monitored, and every shipment they make recorded? But this article is correct, the hood-rats, who left school in the 6th grade, have no idea how to machine anything. The article is also correct that rifles are not their preferred weapon, handguns and knives are. NC and ABC are liberal controlled, so you can expect more of these fallacious “reports” to follow. They can’t fight the truth ethically, but they can scare Henny Penny.

    • Cam February 14, 2017, 10:53 pm

      Yea, pay by credit card they know,pay by money order or check they know. Send letter in the mail the usps takes pictures of both sides of the envelope. Only shot is if you buy it at a gun show and pay cash.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend