As a step towards reducing the number of gun homicides, in his latest New York Times column Nikolas Kristof proposes the following:
But there is a way to stem the tide of a new type of gun that is proliferating unchecked. President Biden can use executive action to crack down on “ghost guns,” which avoid regulation and serial numbers because they are sold unfinished or as kits.
“Ghost guns have taken off, and they’re untraceable,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, a gun violence expert at the University of California at Davis. Law enforcement agencies recovered about 10,000 ghost guns in 2019, and they account for 30 percent of all firearms taken in gun trafficking investigations in California. Ghost guns have been used in at least three mass shootings in California, Wintemute said.
White nationalists have seized upon the chance to build secret arsenals through ghost guns. Last year, a supporter of the extremist boogaloo movement allegedly used a ghost weapon to kill a law enforcement officer, and the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also had ghost guns.
I have no opposition to that measure although I would prefer that the Congress enact a law against “ghost guns” which President Biden could then sign into law.
However, I wonder if Mr. Kristof has reasonable expectations for the results of such a law? There are many ways of obtaining firearms that are less expensive than “ghost guns”. Most frequently the guns used in crimes are either stolen or gifts from family and friends. IMO a better way to “stop the parade of gun deaths” would be to crack down on such gifts. Some states have laws requiring all firearms to be sold through licensed dealers. That seems to me to be a commonsense measure for controlling the sale of firearms.
Here in Chicago in 2021 year-to-date there have been 142 gun homicides, 7 on Easter Sunday alone. We’re on track to have the bloodiest year in our history relative to population. By far the greatest number of victims were young black men (83.3% of victims were black; the ratio of men killed to women killed is about 6:1). It is assumed that the perpetrators of these crimes were mostly young, black men as well although practically no perpetrators have been identified for any of these killings.
Offhand I’d speculate that none of those homicides used a “ghost gun”. Note that Mr. Kristof identified one instance of a “ghost gun” having been used in a homicide last year. That’s .001% of homicides.