Denver plans to ban home-made, untraceable “ghost guns” as they become more common across country

Top Denver leaders want to ban home-made “ghost guns” that cannot be found in the city in a bid to stop the influx of guns as they become more common across the country.

Ghost guns are guns without a serial number that can be assembled at home from kits purchased online or created using 3D printers, Denver City Prosecutor Kristin Bronson said Wednesday. , at a meeting of the Denver City Council Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee.

His office, with the support of Mayor Michael Hancock, is asking city council to pass an ordinance banning the possession, use or manufacture of any firearm without a serial number. If a law is passed, those caught with a phantom weapon face up to 300 days in prison and a fine of $ 999.

“Cities across America are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of crimes involving ghost guns, and Denver is not immune,” Bronson said. “A person who would otherwise be prohibited from legally buying a gun – a minor, a criminal, or someone with a red flag – can currently evade gun laws by purchasing parts.” non-serialized or ghost weapon kits. “

Firearms are problematic because buyers do not undergo background checks or meet minimum age requirements to purchase a firearm, said the city’s senior deputy prosecutor, Reginald Nubine. And law enforcement cannot trace the purchase or ownership history of the gun because guns do not have a serial number.

The sale of buildable firearm kits is legal under federal law, but some states have passed legislation to restrict their use. The websites of the companies that sell the kits online boast of bypassing the paperwork required to purchase guns with serial numbers and the privacy of an unregistered purchase. A vendor’s website says it only takes a few hours to build the guns, and they can often be delivered within a week.

“If you can build IKEA furniture, you can make any of these weapons yourself,” Nubine said.

Federal law enforcement agencies recovered 23,906 ghost guns between 2016 and 2020, according to the US Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The number of confiscations has increased each year, from 1,750 collected in 2016 to 8,712 in 2020. Officers found 325 firearms at scenes of homicides or attempted homicides, according to the ATF.

Denver Police have confiscated 38 ghost guns since November 2019, although the number of guns in the city is likely much higher, Nubine said. Ghost guns represent about 2% of the 1,907 guns seized during this period.

“While our numbers aren’t that high, ghost guns are being used to commit crimes in Denver and we’re trying to get ahead of that curve,” Bronson said.

Denver Police could not immediately provide information on the types of crimes to which the confiscated phantom weapons were linked on Wednesday, department spokeswoman Christine Downs said. The department is not taking a position on the proposed municipal legislation, she said.

City council members showed strong support for the change in ordinance at the committee meeting on Wednesday. The Committee of Seven voted unanimously to forward the proposal to the full board for a vote.

“It’s a little scary to think how easy it is for our talented children to collect weapons in the privacy of their homes, so we are moving forward as quickly as possible,” City Councilor Paul Kashmann said at the meeting.

One of the goals of the legislation is to pressure companies that sell gun kits to start using serial numbers, Nubine said. New York, San Diego, and Philadelphia are among eight US cities that have passed similar legislation.

“More local jurisdictions that enact laws like this will cause a shift in the market for these weapons,” Nubine said. “We want to disrupt the market. “

The proposed ordinance also reflects efforts at the federal level to close the loophole that allows ghost guns to escape regulation. The US Department of Justice in May asked the ATF to update its definition of a firearm to include phantom weapons, noting that gun technology has evolved dramatically since the definition was written. 50 years ago.

Current regulations require that a serial number be printed on the carcass or carcass of a firearm – the part that brings together the hammer, breech, and firing mechanism. The firearms used by the general public at the time of drafting of the regulations were primarily “single-mount” firearms. Many firearms are now more complex and have multi-part frames or receivers, which can be sold separately or unassembled, thus bypassing regulations as unassembled parts do not constitute a firearm under the law. federal.