Apparently they think giving it a scary name will help get it banned. But America deserves to know what’s really going on. 


By Larry Keane, originally published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation 


The new year is little more than a week old, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already eyeing another gun-grabbing proposal for the 2020 legislative session in Albany.

Third-term Gov. Cuomo – already hinting at running for a fourth in 2022 – recently announced his intention to usher through state legislation that would ban the sale of so-called “ghost gun” components to individuals who already cannot legally possess a firearm.

The governor should’ve learned from his previous disastrous N.Y. SAFE Act legislation and stopped there. But it seems Gov. Cuomo would prefer the New York taxpayer-funded legislature to spend time working on even more ineffective policies that would mostly turn law-abiding American citizens into criminals.


Call It Something Scary

The so-called “ghost guns,” and their unassembled components, require the purchase of necessary parts to be shipped to a buyer for assembly, under his proposal. Law-abiding citizens and gunsmiths regularly order parts to repair and rebuild their firearms on their own or their customers.

Some buy unfinished lower receivers and complete the fabrication – and that’s legal in New York State as long as those parts comply with New York’s 2013 SAFE Act. But that didn’t stop N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James from sending cease and desist letters to sellers last year attempting to stop the practice.

The governor, though, is attempting to circumvent this all by requiring serial numbers on nearly every component and part that comprises a finished firearm.


Governor Cuomo


What’s more, Gov. Cuomo’s push appears to be based more on fallacy than fact. He chose to use scare tactics in his terminology and engaged in name-calling of law-abiding firearm owners. He also tries to paint a picture in the state of a so-called dramatic rise of “ghost gun” use and purchases, but failed to produce any data to back his claim.

One figure suggests the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office confiscated approximately 20 “ghost guns” in the past 21 months. That’s hardly the dramatic rise the governor would have you believe. What is fact is that home-built firearms have always been legal.


Anti-Business Horrors

Cuomo’s first push at gun control, the N.Y. SAFE Act, was deeply flawed and rushed through the legislature in 2013. It has faced numerous legal challenges since. It’s widely panned as ineffective, and overly burdensome to small businesses from manufacturers to retailers, as well as to law enforcement and law-abiding citizens.

Now, the new “ghost gun” proposal appears to be just as burdensome and costly. This proposal presents a particular challenge to gunsmiths who repair firearms and replace worn or broken parts. Parts Gov. Cuomo wants serialized would have to be shipped and tracked through federal firearms licensees, complete with background checks and state registration requirements.

The media is screaming about the dangers of "ghost guns". Don't let the headlines fool you.


Once again, law-abiding citizens in New York see their governor target them with a legislative proposal that will not solve the issue, but would instead turn those who do follow the laws into criminals, and penalize hardworking small businesses and manufacturers in a state near the bottom of the country in terms of business friendliness. Gov. Cuomo should take note – his approval ratings reached a new low last year, and roughly 1 million New Yorkers have fled the state in the last decade.

The governor would be wise to focus his efforts – and the valuable time of the legislature – on real solutions that would make life better for New Yorkers and not cause them to flee. Gov. Cuomo’s “ghost gun” proposal represents yet another an ill-considered solution in search of a problem that is simply is not there.

Let’s dive deeper. 

The following was brought to you by LET writer and gun expert Holly Sullivan.

the mainstream media lit up with terrifying headlines screaming about the great dangers of “ghost guns” and the legal loopholes that are making victims out of our nation’s children.

The Trace exclaimed, “Ghost Guns Are Everywhere in California”.

BuzzFeed News warns, “The California High School Shooter Used a Homemade, Untraceable “Ghost Gun” Sheriff Says”.

Los Angeles Times claims, “California is Flooded with “Ghost Guns” and a New State Law Won’t Fix It”.

Americans are no doubt scrolling their daily news feeds gasping at the headlines, agreeing that ‘something’ must be done and allowing this new fear to settle into the back of their minds as they go about their day.

Throughout many of these articles are snippets of information and quotes from groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Newtown Action Alliance.


Officers respond to an active shooter situation in California. (CBS)


Surely to the mom reading these terrifying articles, these groups are subject matter experts.

But what if we told you that many of these articles are missing critically important and balanced statements from the very folks who understand firearm functionality – the gunsmiths, the hobbyists, the actual American gun owner?

It is stated by police that the 16-year old Santa Clarita shooter used a firearm that was completed and assembled outside of a traditional manufacturer.

This type of gun, recently deemed a ghost gun, has been legal for Americans to build and own for their own personal use for generations. It is not lawful to transfer a personally assembled firearm to anyone else but the person who built it.

In order to do so, one would need to obtain a serial number, therefore no longer making it a “ghost gun.”


The father of the shooter is suspected by some to have made the firearm and was mandated to turn in his firearms prior to his death in 2017 as he was determined to be a prohibited possessor.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is quoted by saying, “They’re also known as an 80% gun. So 80% of it is assembled already, and you also get the additional 20%.”

According to MSN, Nick Suplina, managing director of Everytown for Gun Safety said, “You’re essentially ordering a firearm, but just completely outside the rule of law.”

However, it is not a gun that someone is ordering. An 80% lower kit does not simply mean that 20% of the parts just snap together.

Contrary to Villanueva’s statement, an 80% lower is not simply unassembled- it is only 80% manufactured which is a huge difference. The unfinished 80% lower requires 20% or more additionally manufacturing to become functional. This includes accurate further milling or drilling of the metal.


Matthew Larosiere, legal policy director for the Firearms Policy Coalition said to the Mercury News “I can say the 1911 kit build is not for the faint of heart, or wallet… The 1911 kit build is something that would take me, a skilled and highly equipped person, many, many hours to complete. I’d be shocked to see a teenager perform it.”

In fact, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defines an 80% lower as an item that “has not yet reached a stage of manufacture that meets the definition of firearm frame or receiver found in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA).”

It is not simply a snap together part but actual further manufacturing of the metal including drilling or milling that needs to be done with skilled gunsmithing to result in a functional lower receiver.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was landmark legislation that imposed a new change for manufacturers selling firearms in America. For the first time, fully manufactured guns were required to be serialized.

That’s right, for the first 192 years of America’s history, there was no such thing as a serial number on guns and the process is new only in the last 50 or so years. What does the ATF do with these serial numbers?

Essentially nothing.

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The media is screaming about the dangers of "ghost guns". Don't let the headlines fool you.


There is no federal registry of every serial number of guns bought or sold in the United States. The ATF does maintain a database of serial numbers reported lost or stolen as well as some other large batches of firearm sales such as large estates or guns that were already known to have been used in a crime.

However, the fear-invoking term “untraceable ghost gun” is relative. This scare tactics term simply means that there is no database record of an un-serialized gun being transferred. However, the United States government does not, nor have they ever, maintained a registry of all guns in America anyway, including new sales.

A few, select restrictive states may require registration only within their state. The term “untraceable” unfortunately has had the consequence of leading some unknowing readers to believe these guns can make it through metal detectors and not that is related to database tracking.

That leads to the next issue – 3D printing. writes, “Newtown Action Alliance said that in some cases, these firearms can be made almost entirely from plastic parts, except for a metal nail used as a firing pin.”

However, what the article or Newtown Action Alliance fails to mention is that while there have been instances of incredibly simple, poorly-performing firearms made by 3D printers, they are not like the semi-automatic handguns used in the California shooting that they’re creating hysteria around.

USA Today noted that Professor Jody Lynne Maderia acknowledges the simplicity of the 3D printed guns that are capable of manually loading only one or two rounds.

“An assassin who needed to use a one-shot gun — that would be perfectly safe for him — so long as he took someone out with the first shot,” said Madeira, who teaches on the Second Amendment at Indiana University. 

The gun used in Santa Clarita still required a metal lower receiver. Additionally, even a plastic 3D printed gun still requires metal ammunition. If the purpose of this quote is to say that plastic guns can be brought through metal detectors, a potential shooter would likely be caught simply by the ammunition.


Additionally, it is very unlikely that a 3D printed gun is actually safe for a shooter, contrary to Professor Maderia’s opinion.

The ATF even released a video of a plastic gun exploding upon being fired. Experts in manufacturing and materials have repeatedly stressed that plastic or polymer materials are not capable of withstanding the pressure emitted when a bullet is fired, resulting in tremendous risk to the person firing the weapon.

Pete Basiliere, research president at Gartner said, “A typical 3D desktop printer is not up to the task… It probably won’t have the quality of build to make the gun safe. Even if the quality is acceptable, the range of materials that are used in an extrusion printer are so limited that there’s a great risk of the gun misfiring in your hand… A person who wants to make a metal gun needs access to a very expensive machine that is not simple to operate if your gun-making is above board.”  

How much is a 3D printer capable of printing a metal gun? Upwards of $100,000, which is far outside the affordability of a common criminal or disgruntled high school student.

All guns made by a metal 3D printer would also be detectable through metal detectors. Additionally, if a building is requiring visitors to pass through a metal detector, odds are that it’s already a gun free zone. Bringing any gun in, plastic or metal is already illegal.

So, if we take an educated assessment of the hysteria regarding “ghost guns” we can honestly say that unfinished kits are not simple to assemble. We can be honest that 3D printed plastic guns are unreliable without metal. We can be honest that the gun used in California was not a 3D printed gun.

We can be honest that guns still require metal ammunition. We can be honest that all guns in America were ghost guns until 1968. We can be honest that the father of the Santa Clarita shooter was already a prohibited possessor.

We can be honest that a 16-year old was already breaking the law by possessing a gun. We can be honest that under California law, that gun was already required to be serialized and the law did not prevent the shooting.

We can be honest that bringing a weapon into a gun free zone is already against the law. We can be honest that transferring a firearm without a serial number is already illegal. We can be honest that murder is already illegal. We can be honest that there are scores of laws already in effect that did not prevent this shooting.

It is time to be honest about one more thing… a legislative effort to ban ghost guns will likely lead to calls for a national registry of all firearms. A national registry of firearms is the only way to achieve a national confiscation of firearms.


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