I’m going to give The Washington Post credit. Their article ‘Unfinished receivers,’ a gun part that is sold separately, lets some people get around laws doesn’t once use the words “ghost gun.” That’s the term coined by California State Sen. Kevin de Leon to describe firearms manufactured by Americans from unfinished rifle receivers (a.k.a., 80% lowers). The idea being that these unregistered firearms are a ghostly, ghastly presence – a hidden threat to society. Indeed, the Post files this story under “National Security.” Which is patently ridiculous. So I’m not going to give them that much credit. Especially as they lead with this little gem . . .
It was John Zawahri’s failure to pass a background check that prevented him from buying a firearm in California several years ago.
So the 23-year-old obtained an “unfinished receiver,” the metal piece that holds the critical mechanisms that allow guns to fire, and built an assault rifle himself. Last summer, he went on a rampage at a college in Southern California, firing about 100 rounds and killing five people before police fatally shot him.
Zawahri’s assault became one of the most notorious cases involving unfinished receivers, which are unregulated and have become readily available for purchase online and at some gun stores. Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] view the spread of the receivers as an effort to get around strict gun-control laws, particularly in California. They also acknowledge that they have no idea how many of the components have been made and sold.
It’s hard, perhaps even impossible for antis to get their heads ’round the idea that bad people do bad things regardless of the tools at their disposal. If they can’t buy a gun, they’ll make one. If they can’t make one, they’ll steal one (e.g. Adam Lanza). If they can’t steal one, they’ll use an edged weapon (e.g. the recent mass stabbing in China) or explosives (e.g., the Bath Township massacre) or poison victims (e.g., Harold Shipman) or run them over with a car (e.g., the Venice Beach boardwalk homicides), etc.
Ever since Cain killed Abel (metaphorically speaking), evil finds a way.
The antis’ argument: easy access to efficient killing methods makes it easier for people with murderous impulses to realize their horrific desires. Yes, well, the vast majority of firearms-related homicides are not spree killings. Nor crimes of passion. Again, both common sense and historical data show us that those types of killings can’t be stopped by limiting the availability of deadly weapons. And then there’s the simple, inescapable fact that the rapidly rising number of firearms in the U.S. has been accompanied by an equally dramatic fall in violent crime.
It’s important to note that this trend has nothing to do with FBI background checks on new firearms purchases. As John “Death by Stats” Lott has proven time and time again, background checks do sweet FA to prevent crime. More to the point, what did the background check system do to stop John Zawahri’s rampage? Does the Post share the ATF’s belief that tightening regulations on home-made firearms would reduce firearms-related crime? Yes. Yes it does.
The sale of unfinished receivers, also called “blanks” or “80 percent lower receivers,” is one of the most daunting challenges for law enforcement officials tasked with enforcing firearms regulations. There are no sales records of unfinished receivers, as there are for ordinary gun sales, which means the ATF cannot check with stores for information about buyers when a gun is used in a crime. And because the receivers bear no serial numbers or other markings that would indicate where they were manufactured, guns made with them can’t be traced back to their owners if they are found at a crime scene . . .
Law enforcement officials say their inability to trace the firearms is becoming a major problem. Firearms built with unfinished receivers are increasingly being found at crime scenes and being purchased from suspected gang members by undercover ATF agents.
Local police, officials say, often don’t contact the ATF about the guns because they know they can’t be traced, which makes estimating how many are out there that much more complicated.
The ATF is trying to crack down on the trade in the makeshift guns by targeting shops and individuals who offer to turn the unfinished receivers into functional pieces for firearms.
How many times do police solve crimes by checking the serial number on a gun used in a crime and then tracing it back to its owner? I imagine there might be a few criminals stupid enough to use a traceable gun but I’d bet dollars to [yesteryear’s] donuts that the vast majority of crimes solved are presented to the prosecutor, judge and/or jury without gun tracing evidence.
In fact, it would be nice to have some facts about this homemade lowers -> crime problem. Forgive me for thinking their absence – along with the lack of attribution for the vague generalities provided by the Post – indicates a major logic fail. Or, if your prefer, yet another example of law enforcement beating the drum for gun control. Crime is getting worse! Criminals are getting smarter! We’re important! Give us money! Do what we say! Like that.
Truth be told, the right of Americans to own unregistered, untraceable firearms is enshrined in the Constitution (the bit about “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”). Whether or not firearms serial number registration is a valuable crime-busting technique is irrelevant. Firearms registration is infringement. The FBI’s NICS background check – a method for the government to keep a record of who bought which firearm when – is also an infringement. Think of it this way . . .
Hate speech is a crime. Should we pass [unconstitutional] laws requiring registration of all writers who publish on websites so the government can know where to find people who publish hate speech? Yes, I know: hiding your identity on the web is as difficult as finding an anti who can provide an accurate definition of an “assault rifle.” The government can find you in a New York minute.
Which makes our ability to keep and bear arms without government surveillance even more important. As 80% lower seller and Marine Dimitri Karras understands well enough.
“In the current day and age we live in, the NSA receives files on almost everyone in our country,” Karras said. “This is a way for people to maintain their privacy.” . . .
“An armed society is a civil society, and it is my belief that the better armed our society is, the more civil it will be,” Karras said. “Most government agencies get upset when people find a way to maintain their privacy. This is a way for people to maintain their privacy.”
Substitute the word “liberty” for “privacy” and we’re there.