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New York Makes Headway Against Rising Threat of Untraceable Firearms with Legislation Prohibiting “Ghost Guns”

Washington, DC —  Giffords, the gun safety group co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, lauded the New York Senate for taking a critical step to stop the rising threat of untraceable firearms. The Senate passed two pieces of legislation that will prohibit these weapons, which are often referred to as “ghost guns.” The policies will now be considered by the New York Assembly.

Ghost gun companies exploit a loophole in the way that the federal government interprets the definition of “firearm,” and use it to sell nearly complete firearms without a background check, and without the serial numbers that law enforcement use to trace crime guns back to their source. These untraceable weapons are highly appealing to gun traffickers, as well as individuals who cannot pass a background check because they are prohibited from possessing firearms.

The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act (Senate Bill 13) and the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act (Senate Bill 14) will protect New Yorkers from the threat of untraceable firearms by limiting the sale of parts used to manufacture firearms to licensed gunsmiths and requiring that gunsmiths serialize the firearms they produce.

“Ghost guns are a clear threat to New Yorkers as they allow individuals who couldn’t pass a background check access to untraceable firearms,” said David Pucino, Senior Staff Attorney, Giffords Law Center. “These dangerous weapons are guns and need to be regulated as guns. We applaud Senators Holyman and Kaplan for their dedication to this critical public safety issue and urge the Assembly to swiftly pass these life-saving pieces of legislation and continue New York’s tradition of standing as a nationwide leader on gun safety.”

Ghost guns are increasingly trafficked and used in shootings, particularly by shooters who could not pass a background check and therefore could not purchase a firearm from a retailer. In 2019 at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, two students were killed and three others were injured by a sixteen-year-old armed with a ghost gun. Giffords Law Center has joined the parents of the two students who were killed and the Attorney General of the State of California in a lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for its failure to regulate these dangerous weapons. 

New York has stepped up to fill the void created by the federal government’s failure to act. Attorney General Letitia James has taken decisive action against ghost gun companies that have been selling kits to make assault weapons. These bills would go a step further to address all ghost guns, including handguns, and the precursor parts used to make them. These bills are crucial in preventing the proliferation of ghost guns, which will help protect Americans from this rising threat. 


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