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Commentary: Ghost Guns Are Truly Scary

By Myra Isenhart/Colorado Ceasefire Board and Mark Udall/Giffords Board; former U.S. Senator, Colorado Westword, June 11, 2023 | Turns out that ghost guns are not just spooky thoughts on a dark and stormy night. Here’s why.... | June 11, 2023

Turns out that ghost guns are not just spooky thoughts on a dark and stormy night. 

Here’s why:

Until recently, guns came from your local gun shop, made by companies like Colt or Winchester. However, now you can buy a kit to put one together yourself or use a 3D printer to make one without any federally regulated parts…for less than $200!

So what?

First, these kinds of do-it-yourself firearms cannot be traced back to an owner; when some fall into the wrong hands, police have no way of establishing ownership. Sadly, ghost guns are showing up at a terrifying rate; those picked up at crime scenes in the United States have risen more than 1,000 percent since 2017, according to the Justice Department. The number of ghost guns found on felons doubled in a recent year. In just four recent years, 24,000 showed up at crime scenes.

The use of ghost guns by criminals has grown exponentially in a very brief time. For the future, law enforcement is especially worried that domestic terrorists and extremists will turn to these homemade, untraceable firearms. Another worry is that guns printed at home without metal components will evade metal detectors.

Second, ghost guns avoid the law that requires every gun owner to pass a background check, indicating no serious criminal record. Of all the gun laws, background checks have the greatest support. Nationally, even a supermajority of members of the National Rifle Association supports them. Over two decades ago, Colorado voters closed the gun-show loophole in order to require these checks, and a decade ago the state expanded background checks to all sales and transfers of firearms. Ghost guns are more like an open lane than a loophole for those who would avoid background checks. They have become a weapon of choice for underage buyers.

Third, ghost guns are just as troublesome in Colorado as they are nationally. Those who live in Summit and Eagle counties know that their entire school systems closed down because of a threat from a young man with ghost guns. Those of us in metro Denver are aware that a troubled youth shot two deans at East High School, then later shot and killed himself, with a ghost gun.

What can be done? In the past two years, eleven states and the District of Columbia passed legislation that restricts the manufacture of guns without serial numbers.

We are writing to celebrate that Governor Jared Polis just signed SB 23-279! This bill prohibits the manufacture, sale or transfer of ghost guns; those already made must be taken to a gun shop to verify the background status of the owner and receive serial numbers before January 1, 2024. We applaud this continuing effort of our representatives, senators and governor to keep us as safe as possible from further gun violence. As gun owners ourselves, we applaud restricting guns that avoid background checks, arming criminals and the underage.

Ghost guns are real and truly scary!

Myra Isenhart is a Colorado Ceasefire board member. Mark Udall is a former U.S. senator and Giffords board member.

Associated Press, June 2, 2023: Ghost Gun Bill signed into law by Governor Polis

CBS News: Ghost Guns banned under new Colorado law