• ‘Ghost guns': Deadly, untraceable and totally legal

    By: Tom Regan

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Law enforcement says it's a troubling trend; People bypassing background checks to build their own powerful military assault-style rifles.         

    And it's all legal.

    A man used a so-called "ghost gun" in a deadly mass shooting recently. That man, who killed his wife and four others, was prohibited from owning a gun based on prior arrests. But he simply ordered the parts on the Internet, and built one himself. 

    No questions asked. 

    The “ghost guns” have no serial numbers, there is no identification needed, no background checks and it can be built at home.

    "What these companies are doing is trying to exploit a kind of technical loophole in federal law," Adam Skaggs, with the Giffords Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence told Regan.

    Channel 2’s Tom Regan found out first-hand how easy that is to do. He found many online businesses that sell all the parts for an unfinished rifle and ordered a kit for about $500.

    It came by U.S. mail, neatly packed and ready to assemble.

    A Channel 2 Action News producer followed instructions that called for hollowing out the trigger pocket in what's called the 80-percent lower receiver. It holds the key parts of the gun, including the firing mechanism.

    The producer used an ordinary hand drill and a $60 router purchased at a hardware store.

    After a few more hours to attach the rest of the gun parts to the lower receiver, Regan's AR-15 was ready for the range.

    Total build time: less than 2-days.

    Regan took it to a local shooting range, where it fired 15-20 rounds cleanly before the gun jammed.

    "We seize hundreds of these and the number's been going up every year," Graham Barlow, with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau told Regan.

    Police said a rising number of criminals are making the “ghost guns,” selling them and using them in violent attacks across the country.

    Authorities said Kevin Neal used an AR-15 he built himself in a shooting rampage that killed five people. Though his criminal history forbade him from owning a gun, he ordered the assault rifle kit online, no background checks, no questions asked.

    "We see this trend becoming more popular and we do see an increase in the number of people selling these," Barlow told Regan.


    TRENDING STORIES:


    It's illegal to sell homemade guns, but making them is completely within the law.

    Adam Skaggs represents the Gabby Giffords Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence.

    The former congresswoman was gravely wounded in a mass shooting that killed six people in 2011.

    Skaggs said “ghost guns” represent a menacing loophole in the law.

    "These sites make it as easy as clicking a mouse for these dangerous people to get a hold of assault weapons," Skaggs said.

    The Giffords organization has sent letters to web-hosting companies of six websites that sell “ghost guns” asking them to disable the sites. 

    The letters claim the “ghost gun” websites violate web-hosting policies by allowing the purchasers to bypass background checks. 

    "I don't think it's a loophole in the law. The thing of it is, any criminal who wants a gun is going to get a gun. He's going to steal it. He's going to buy it off the streets," Jerry Henry with Georgia Carry.org told Regan.

    Henry is opposed to any restrictions on unassembled guns.

    He said the vast majority of people who purchase them are hobbyists who enjoy building their own firearms.

    "Most people who are interested in collecting and doing these kinds of things are not the ones going out and committing crimes," Henry said.

    In California, where that shooting happened in November, buyers of unfinished guns will soon be required to apply for a serial number for the weapon.

    Georgia has no plans to restrict the sale or ownership of “ghost guns.”

    --------------

    Do you think laws should be changed to stop "ghost guns?" Weigh in on our Facebook post below.

    Next Up: