CBS 17 Investigators uncovered a loophole in the sale of guns online that’s making it more difficult for police to track who owns a firearm.
In fact, these weapons have no serial numbers, no registration and no age restrictions.
They’re are referred to as “ghost guns” and these weapons are completely legal for anyone to buy.
“We sale unserialized, unregistered AR 15’s, long range rifles, glocks, and coming out soon in the near future an AK line,” stated Kyle Martin with Ghost Guns America LLC.
Ghost guns are sold online across the U.S. and CBS 17 investigator Felicia Bolton discovered they are not regulated by federal laws.
You can purchase the parts and build just about any weapon of your choice.
Within hours – it’s ready to fire .
Although some gun enthusiasts are in favor of these weapons, ghost guns pose serious concerns for many law enforcement agencies.
Sgt. Kenneth Bagwell is a Wake County deputy and teacher at the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center.
Bagwell conducted a brief training session with Bolton at the gun range.
He walked Bolton through the safety risks of buying these weapons online.
“If you don’t have a background in assembling fire arms or you’re not well established in that realm – than absolutely avoid that,” said Bagwell.
He stated that when buying any firearm on the web, you should always use a reputable dealer.
Once it comes in the mail, he stated you should inspect its’ condition right away.
Bagwell stressed the main thing you should look for is the gun’s serial number.
“It is one of the most important things that gives us the history of that firearm, that’s it is manufactured correctly, it’s by that reputable dealer and that it’s the correct firearm,” said Bagwell.
Ghost guns do not have a serial number and they do not have to be sold by a licensed dealer.
These are two red flags for law enforcement.
“There are too many reputable dealers out there , too many legitimate fire arms. Why would you want to participate in something that could be a criminal violation right off the bat?” questioned Bagwell.
One ghost gun vendor based in California, declined Bolton’s for a Skype interview. But their spokesperson did provide this written statement.
“There are many advantages to building your own gun at home; a common drive among all of our builders is that these products tap into an American admiration for self-reliance, home-made, and the privacy that only come with building your own firearm as opposed to buying one.” – Vice President of Ghost Gun America LLC Aydin Hartt.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the federal entity that regulates the sell of firearms.
Their spokesperson explained the legality of the matter.
Senior Special Agent and ATF Public Information Officer Gerod King explained the legal loophole lies in the receiver portion of the weapon. It’s the bottom half of the gun, also known as the frame.
He stated because ghost gun receivers are unfinished, they do not fall under “The Gun Control Act 1968.”
“If it’s an 80 percent completed receiver or anything less than that. That is not regulated because it has not met the definition of a firearm,” explained King.
He stated the interstate, licensing and background check requirements placed on firearms under that federal law do not apply to these items and they can be sold legally on the internet with little restriction.
He explained another concern is customers falling for scams online.
“We cant tell people what to do , one way or the other. What I would do if I were buying a firearm. I would by a firearm from a reputable business people , who actually I know its legal. I know they are not going to take my money,” stated King.
Ghost guns have been tied to at least two mass shootings, CBS News reports.
Police said in November, Kevin Neal killed five people in a Northern California shooting spree using an unregistered, homemade gun. In 2013, John Zawahri shot and killed five in Santa Monica also using a ghost gun.
Vice President of Ghost Gun America LLC Aydin Hartt sent CBS 17 these written responses to our questions.
What are ghost guns?
A ghost gun is a firearm that is manufactured and assembled by an individual.
How do they work?
After they are built and assembled they function just like real guns.
What are the costs for them?
They often cost anywhere from a $100 to $200 more than a commercially purchased and fully manufactured gun.
Why do you feel these guns are necessary?
Home firearms builders are independent gunsmiths, tinkerers, and inventors who want firearms they can build themselves. Ghost builds offer individuals hands-on knowledge of a firearm that most gun owners won’t have w/out the experience of building it themselves.
Who can purchase them?
Anyone with the willingness to learn how to build a firearm, who posses the necessary manufacturing tools, and can legally own a firearm.
Do they work like a real weapon?
How is the sales of them conducted?
Online at ghostguns.com and at our Corona, CA store
Is it legal?
What does this offer a customer?
Our tested and bundled kits provide builders with a safe way to manufacture dependable firearms by eliminating the trial and error associated with home made guns.
Why a ghost gun instead of a gun already put together?
There are many advantages to building your own gun at home; a common drive among all of our builders is that these products tap into an American admiration for self-reliance, home-made, and the privacy that only come with building your own firearm as opposed to buying one.