Attorney General James urges feds to crack down on unmarked ‘ghost guns’


(WIVB) — With gun violence careening out of control, attorneys general from 22 states, including New York, are calling on federal law enforcement to crack down on “ghost guns.”

Two weeks ago Buffalo Police and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms swarmed a Buffalo neighborhood to seize a veritable houseful of unregistered, unmarked plastic firearms known as “ghost guns,” along with tools authorities suspect were used to make them.

These kinds of illegally manufactured firearms are nearly impossible to trace.

“And they are being trafficked to people who should not have access to guns like that,” said Paul McQuillan from Gun Sense New York.

Paul McQuillen is Executive Director for Gun Sense New York, which promotes common-sense measures to combat illegal guns and gun violence. He supports the New York Attorney General’s call for a federal crackdown on “ghost guns,” like those recovered earlier this year in the Albany area.

“We all have a responsibility to crack down on violence and to protect the communities devastated in its wake,” said NY Attorney General Letitia James.

Just this week, customs officials arrested a Rochester man at the Peace Bridge and seized a “ghost gun” along with suspected drugs. Last month Buffalo police arrested a Sloan man at a downtown hotel and found a “ghost gun” in a hotel room.

McQuillen told us, “ghost guns” can be made from kits that can be purchased online or formed on a 3-D printer.

“Basically, it is an untraceable gun and there is no way we can determine who manufactured it, we can’t determine when it was manufactured, where it was manufactured, who was the retailer that sold it, and who was the individual who first bought it,” added McQuillen.

McQuillen says ghost guns are cheap, easy to make, and can be deadly.

“It is just a matter of having somebody make them–somebody with the tools and the wherewithal and the desire to make them and market them and sell them to people who should not have them,” said McQuillen.

State lawmakers passed two bills this year that would allow people in possession of certain unfinished gun components to be prosecuted and would ban “ghost guns” altogether.

Those measures were passed in June, but the governor has yet to sign them.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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