Some criminals are getting their hands on guns they would never be able to legally buy.
They’re called ‘ghost guns’ -- they don’t have a serial number, and don’t require identification or a background check and can be built at home.
KIRO 7 found many online businesses that sell all of the parts needed for an unfinished rifle.
The buyer can purchase the gun parts online, then put the weapon together and build the firing mechanism themselves.Our crews watched someone build a ghost gun, by hollowing out the trigger pocket of the rifle, which holds key parts including the firing mechanism.
In less than two days, the AR-15 was ready to use and completely legal.
The kits cost about $500.
Local pro-gun advocates say most of the people who buy gun parts online are simply ‘hobbyists’ and this is another attempt to limit the rights of gun owners.
“If a person wants to commit a crime with a firearm or any other kind of weapon, they’re going to get their hands on it anyway,” said Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue.
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‘Ghost guns’ used in deadly shootings
So-called “ghost guns” have been used in deadly shootings, including one in northern California last year.
Authorities with California’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said that Kevin Neal from Tehama, California, used an AR-15 rifle he built himself to kill five people, including his wife.
He drove to a nearby elementary school and fired 30 rounds outside. Thankfully, no children were hurt.
While Neal’s criminal history prevented him from owning a gun, he ordered an assault rifle kit he bought online.
West Coast underground gun trafficking
Undercover ATF agents in Sacramento busted a “ghost shop” gun manufacturer, who advertised that he could help someone make a gun in under 20 minutes.
‘Dr. Death,’ who’s real name is Daniel Crowninshield, pleaded guilty last February.
“We have found ghost guns or firearms made from unfinished receivers used in some horrific crimes,” said Graham Barlow, special agent in charge of Sacramento's ATF field division. “We see this trend becoming more popular.”
In 2015, ATF agents recovered hundreds of ghost guns, arrested and charged eight gang members in northern California.
Investigators say they were selling homemade AR-15 rifles out of car trunks in shopping center parking lots.
Those gang members were just sentenced this December.
Keeping ghost guns off the streets
Adam Skaggs represents the Gabby Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The organization is named after the former Arizona congresswoman who was gravely hurt during a mass shooting that killed six people.
Skaggs said ghost guns represent a menacing loophole in the law.
“These sites make it as easy as clicking a mouse for these dangerous people to get ahold of assault weapons.” said Skaggs.
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