Local Houston news station KHOU ran a report (see video above) this week that covered the “upward trend” of homemade “ghost guns” purportedly being used in crimes across the country.
As part of the story, they interviewed Earl Griffith, the Chief of the ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division, who came in from D.C. to teach local law enforcement about what to look for when they’re policing the streets.
“This is a 3D-printed silencer,” Griffith said as he held up a 3D printed suppressor. “Innovations in firearms have gone wild.”
Griffith also showed off an auto sear that was also made using additive processing.
“It’s all machine guns. It’s not just traditional one shot, one shot, one shot. Now it’s machine guns,” Griffith explained.
Approximately six weeks ago, three Houston police officers were shot by a criminal who had a firearm that was illegally modified to function on full auto.
“So that’s the concern,” Griffith said. “A lot of innocent bystanders are in the line of this fire.”
The Chief complained that technological progress in this space has made 3D printing cheaper, more widespread, and easier for the end-user.
A Glock switch or auto sear can be made for as little as $200 and finished in about 40 minutes, he told KHOU.
“It’s a game-changer,” Griffith said. “Now it’s like anyone can do this. You don’t need a special skill.”
For some time now, anti-gunners have been going nuts over the issue of home gunsmithing, an activity that is perfectly legal provided one is not a prohibited person.
They believe that by regulating certain gun parts and kits as traditional firearms they’ll be able to stop criminals from getting so-called “ghost guns.”
Of course, it’s a fool’s errand. Just as addicts will always find drugs, criminals will always obtain firearms. Even if lawmakers were to find a way to stop all 3D printing and DIY gun-making tomorrow, criminals would revert to tried and true methods: straw purchasers, robbing gun stores, stealing firearms from friends and family members, purchasing guns on the black market or from the dark web.
The solution to crime is to focus on criminals. The reality is a small number of known criminals are responsible for the majority of violence, as GunsAmerica previously reported.
To give one perspective, per a new study conducted by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, during a one-year period roughly 500 identifiable individuals were responsible for 60-70 percent of all gun violence in Washington, D.C. — with no more than 200 at any one given time.
Law enforcement should target these individuals. Again, they’re not hard to find. About 86 percent are already in the system.
“Overall, most victims and suspects with prior criminal offenses had been arrested about 11 times for about 13 different offenses by the time of the homicide,” the study indicates.
We can’t put the 3D printing genie back in the bottle. And, more gun control, no matter how draconian, is not going to stop these hardened criminals. Provided they can’t be rehabilitated or incentivized to stop offending, our only option is to take ’em off the streets.