Gun Shows and the Ghost Gun Boogeyman

Did you know that if you’ve got the know-how to assemble IKEA furniture that you can assemble a ghost gun? Did you know that gun shows go so far as to actually display ghost guns like candy?

That’s the spin pushed by proponents of two new bills introduced in the California Legislature, both aimed at shutting down gun shows (SB 264-Min/D) and the sale of so-called “ghost” guns (AB 311-Ward/D).  The baloney comments about IKEA and candy are all part of the villainization of guns and their owners, and is being used as evidence that we are facing a ghost gun epidemic.

Scare tactics – pure and simple.

Last I checked, IKEA furniture doesn’t require meticulous drilling and labor with specialized hand tools, all which are required to create a working firearm component. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has it right when they say that “GHOST GUNS ARE A GUN CONTROL BOOGEYMAN.”  Ever since the foundation of our country, Americans have had the ability to legally make firearms on their own.  What’s more, this legal activity is regulated by state and federal firearm statutes.

AB 311 would ban the sale of “precursor parts” at gun shows – which, according to anti-gun propaganda, leads to a proliferation of ghost guns.  This is yet another attempt to close the non-existent “gun show loophole” because it would have the net effect of banning gun shows altogether since much of a show’s inventory are “gun parts.”

The word “loophole” is just another politicized term the gun controllers have invented – much like “ghost gun” and “assault weapon.”  There is not, nor ever has been a gun show “loophole.” No one can just waltz into a gun show and out with a gun, because all statutory and regulatory rules apply.  According to NSSF, “You must run a federal background check on any individual you sell a firearm to through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The same paperwork, recordkeeping, age restrictions, and other rules also apply, as if the sale occurred in the dealer’s place of business. Further, only a small percentage of tables at gun shows, about 20 to 25 percent, actually sell firearms. The others sell books, accessories or other items.”  Plus, reporting that unlicensed dealers can sell firearms at gun shows is 100% untrue. Whoever does this is engaging in criminal activity.

Here in California, a press release by the Attorney General dated May 19, 2020, indicated that out  of 400 investigations under the Armed Prohibited Persons System, 2 so-called ghost guns were found, both possessed by one individual.  But Assemblyman Chris Ward – the author of AB 311 – has said the California Bureau of Firearms seized 512% more ghost guns from persons identified through the APPS database in 2019 than in 2018.  That sounds alarming, right? But once we drilled down on these numbers, this percentage translates to 41 guns in 2019 versus 8 guns in 2018. Out of the DOJs 21,916 contacts with prohibited individuals, 0.002% of the cases uncovered a firearm with no serial number. And, when reading the report’s citations, ghost guns data seems to be intermingled with stats about firearms that have had their serial numbers removed. It is difficult, therefore, to make an honest evaluation of the data when the data itself is not credible.

For all the fear mongering and mischaracterization of data, neither 3D printed gun files nor unfinished receiver blanks constitute “firearms” or “handguns” because they are not “firearms.”   Additionally, an unfinished receiver sold as a kit with other unregulated gun parts is not a “combination of parts from which a firearm […] can be assembled” because the unfinished frame must first be manufactured before it can be assembled.  And no amount of additional unregulated parts sold alongside an unregulated unfinished receiver blank can magically transform a non-firearm into a “firearm” or a “handgun.”

There’s a lot that can be said about any legislation to rid the state of gun shows, but it’s all driven by Boogey-man type rhetoric. Bad guys don’t follow the law.  That’s why they are bad guys.  We have our work cut out for us here, and GOC will continue to fight the good fight.

Federally, our sister organization Gun Owners of America is working overtime as well on the ghost gun issue, recently submitting a letter to President Biden about any prospective executive actions.  You can read the letter in its entirety as well as Ammoland’s commentary on this issue HERE