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Amidst Rise of Ghost Gun Threat, Nevada Governor Signs Bill to Protect Communities from Untraceable Firearms

Washington DC Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, lauded Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak for taking swift action to halt the spread of untraceable firearms. Today, Governor Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 286 into law, which  prohibits the sale and transfer of unfinished and unserialized firearm components, also known as “ghost guns.”  

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

“Nevada knows the heartache of gun violence all too well. Sadly, it’s getting worse. The gun lobby has helped fuel this crisis by allowing easily obtained and untraceable “ghost guns” to be a booming market. Thankfully, we have leaders with courage who are not afraid to act. Led by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, a survivor of the 1 October shooting in 2017, the Nevada legislature and Governor Sisolak have stood up against the proliferation of ghost guns. AB286 will help save the lives of Nevadans.”

Ghost guns, or “do-it-yourself” guns, are often assembled from kits easily purchased online—with no background check required. This is a rapidly emerging threat that a handful of states, including Nevada, are trying to stop at the same time that the federal government has begun a new process to regulate ghost guns. Here’s why:

  • Ghost guns are untraceable. Unlike a weapon made by a licensed manufacturer, ghost guns don’t have a serial number or other markings. That leaves law enforcement without a critical piece of information used to solve crimes.
  • Ghost guns are largely unregulated. Under federal law, an “unfinished” ghost gun part is just a hunk of metal or plastic. But with a drill and a few minutes spent watching how-to videos, you can assemble a fully functioning firearm in your basement. Recently, the Department of Justice proposed a rule to regulate kits used to build ghost guns. 
  • Criminals love ghost guns. Building a ghost gun circumvents our entire system of gun safety laws and regulations. That’s precisely why criminals, drug traffickers, and gangs are increasingly relying on them.

The state of Nevada received a C+ on the most recent edition of Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard after making significant progress in its gun safety laws. Nevada has the 15th-highest gun death rate in the country. Giffords worked with Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui in the 2019 session to pass AB291, another big step for Nevada, which included an extreme risk law and safe storage law.