Shannon Watts
By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Shannon Watts, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
Previous Post
Next Post

We’ve seen this movie before. When called out on this (in the unlikely event that she is), Ms. Watts will no doubt defend herself by saying she was just regurgitating the willful misinformation being spouted in the linked article by New York Senator Chuck Schumer trying to whip up fear of “ghost guns.”

But that’s more than a little disingenuous. She knows exactly what she’s doing and probably also knows that this is at best inaccurate anti-gun agitprop and more likely a deliberate lie.

We’ll let you de-bunk the specifics of this (please use specifics about current gun control laws and avoid the ad hominems) in the comments. Have at it.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Under California law, she is technically correct, one may legally acquire all of the parts, including an 80% frame, necessary to build a functional firearm. But once you start building it, felon or not, you break the law that requires that one obtain to a serial number from the CA DOJ (with a background check) and engrave that number on the frame before doing any other work. Further, a felon who builds such a firearm is a felon in possession. If he/she buys ammo (which requires a (truncated) background check, then one is a felon in possession of ammo, another charge.

    • Under California law (and the law everywhere) once a felon builds a gun, they are GUILTY OF BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A GUN. It’s not hard to understand. This is already illegal. Making it illegal under two laws or three or ten won’t make a difference.

      • But that wasn’t the question. The question is whether a felon can legally acquire the parts to build a firearm, and in California he/she can. It is also true that a felon can’t do much with those part without committing a crime, but that doesn’t matter to these folks. Their aim is to make it illegal or to require a background check to obtain the necessary parts. One example is the NJ AG who was threatening to sue (criminally) any company that shipped 80% parts into the state, equating 80% receivers as equivalent to a completed firearm.

        • Yes,

          This is what I have been preaching here.
          Look at the article “we can debunk Shannon….” well, no, no you cant, and thats the problem.

          Yes, you can legally build an rifle or pistol using an 80% receiver and slapping in parts without any background checks.
          You can also buy pipe and a cnc machine without a background check, though an 80% is MUCH MUCH faster and cheaper.

          As much as I hate to throw them a bone, yes this could be an issue.
          Could gangs or groups or even individuals get the idea to just buy a ton of lower, machine them out and order a bunch of parts and build a small stockpile of functional firearms. You bet!

          That is going to be a hard one to convince people otherwise.

          If we don’t come up with a solution to that, you can bet your sweet hind end the Democrats will!!!

        • “The question is whether a felon can legally acquire the parts to build a firearm, and in California he/she can.”
          But so what, who cares? Parts are just parts, but a gun is a gun. It’s the gun they are trying to ban, the parts are only a means to that end. And don’t forget, conspiring to commit a felony is also a crime- so two or more people just buying the parts is illegal already. And ammo? possession by a felon is also a crime.

          They think it will be effective to make stuff more illegaler.

  2. Dont think she’s smart enough for an informed opinion, probably gets a printed script from Doomberg’s office weekly, along with a hefty check!

  3. But scary convicted felons are locked away in jail, the ones who aren’t in jail anymore are nice, corrected upstanding citizens who have paid their duty to society and should be able to vote, why should we be concerned if they can get a gun? How dare you impugn their honor and decency Ms. Watts! These people deserve second chances! To suggest that these fine people might be a threat is to imply that perhaps they deserve additional, er, corrective action.

  4. It’s pretty simple. Once the pile of parts qualifies as a functional gun, a convicted felon cannot possess it. Serial number, ground off serial number or no serial number. Put the felon where he belongs….in jail. Leave the rest of us alone!

    • A felon cannot be in possession of a functional firearm, a non-functional firearm, firearm parts, ammunition, or expended ammunition in most cases.

  5. But since all the anti-gun laws that exist now don’t stop bad guys and never will let’s repeal them all and make it open season on bad guys. Problem solved – problem staying solved!

  6. Convicted felons in PA can buy anything that could be made into a gun. If it’s not a gun, even felons are not prohibited by PA gun restrictions.

    Even after the PA anti-people’s common sense, measured, proposal to restrict access even felons would be able to possess materials and tools that could — perhaps — be made into a gun for more than $10,000 and a year’s effort.

  7. In other news, there are no accurate estimates in misery, number of people impacted, or economic loss, from ephreda / pseudo-ephridine and related methamphetamine precursor bans.

  8. In other, other news even the meth drug war hasn’t extended to banning fertilizer, which might be used in growing (vs. synthesizing) ephreda yielding plants.

    Fertilizers are considered adequately restricted by the GWOT, along with paying cash, turning off your cell phone, buying food in bulk, and etc.

    So, everybody’s a terrorist now with people reacting to The Chin-dromeda Strain.

    • ….there’s been a delay of 60 seconds or so in responses…. hope you guys are reading the links. Vote Democrat? Um ….maybe next time.

  9. One of the most dangerous things in the US: The upper-middle class white woman with too much time on her hands.

  10. If TTAG is going to run an article to “debunk” Watts (or anyone else), perhaps you should start by citing a specific statement that really IS bunk.

    The Watts quote at the head of this article contains two statements, both of which are true under federal laws and under the laws of any state I have ever heard of. I’m not convinced that either of her facts constitutes a problem, and certainly not one that can be solved with more “gun control laws,” but if “WE” are going to “debunk” something we ought to start by knowing the existing laws.

    It really IS perfectly legal for a felon or any other prohibited person to obtain all the parts necessary to assemble a working gun. It becomes a crime when that felon or prohibited person makes those parts into a gun, but obtaining all the parts really is perfectly legal.

    It doesn’t matter whether “all the parts” means an assembled AR Upper, pistol grip, stock, BCG, LPK, and an “80%” lower, or a 1″ board, two pieces of ordinary steel pipe, and a nail — or any of several other combinations of LEGAL parts. Anyone can legally obtain all the parts needed to build a gun.

    Her other statement quoted in the article is “there’s no way for police to trace where a gun was purchased and who owns it.” In deciding if this statement is true or false, we have to examine it in context. That statement was clearly talking about guns assembled from those legal parts — and in that context it is 100% true. If a felon legally obtains all the parts then illegally assembles those parts into a gun, there is no way for police to trace that gun to a specific source or to know who owned it if the gun isn’t in the criminal’s possession when the police find it. THAT is all true. Personally I don’t think it represents any real problem because crimes are almost never solved by tracing any gun.

    If we were to take her statement about not being able to trace guns by itself, without any context, that statement is still true for more than half the guns used in crimes. Most “crime guns” were in criminal hands because the gun was stolen or had been through one or more illegal transfers before it was ever used to commit a crime.

    Add in all the guns that are “untraceable” simply because they were last sold before 1964 or were a non-commercial private transfer any time after 1964 and the truth is that there are millions of perfectly legal but completely “untraceable” guns all across the country. And none of that matters because, again, tracing a firearm is a slow process which is almost never part of “solving” any crime.

    • Yes

      Nothing stops felons from making knives by putting a strip of metal to a grinder…….while in prison!

      No serial numbers!

  11. Ok, so when has any law stopped a criminal from disobeying another law to commit a crime. It’s a bogus trap to even think about. I doubt a felon with a record could care less about any law if they thought they could get off even if they committed whatever crime was on their mind.

        • Or an American that gets detained in India for six months just because a single spent case was found in his luggage.

          Lots of people get in trouble needlessly and for ridiculous reasons. It’s sad and unfortunate. These things could happen to anyone, you or me.

        • Prndll,

          Similar thing really happened to a friend of mine a number of years ago. He was travelling with his wife to go on a cruise, and forgot to check his duffle bag with a fine-toothed comb before packing. TSA found a single .30-30 cartridge loose in a side pocket, left over from the last trip to the family WV deer camp. That was one long trip for a short cruise. Even now he’s on a watch list and can’t buy a pack of gum without a strip search. Only good thing about it, other than the jokes, is that it was our TSA who found it and not some foreign security dudes, or he still may be in the pokey.

  12. I agree with Xuan. Everything she says is true. The thrust of her statements, as noted above, is to require that all parts be serialized and obtained solely through FFLs. Something along those lines was proposed in the last session of the California Legislature but not passed, and the New Jersey AG has threatened 80% manufacturers with criminal action if they should ship parts into the state (relying on an overly broad interpretation of NJ law).

    The thrust then is the elimination or regulation by the states of the trade in firearm parts. That is what is on the horizon.

  13. I don’t get it.

    She is right. Right now convicted felons can legally get everything they need to make a gun. Parts, slides, barrels, 80% lowers/frames.

    She’s absolutely right.

    SO WHAT??

  14. I would argue that she’s probably technically correct in most instances.

    I would however point out that it doesn’t matter. Most guns used in crimes are stolen or “borrowed”. This means that most criminals who come into possession of a gun wouldn’t be stopped even if “ghost guns” disappeared tomorrow. It also doesn’t change the fact that once they fully assemble an actual firearm thier possession of it is already illegal regardless of how they came to get it.

    This would do nothing to prevent theft, sale of stolen property, gun running or borrowing, which are the main drivers of the problem to begin with. Ergo I would argue that “ghost gun laws” serve little to no purpose, fall under the malum prohibitum classification, would be impossible to enforce under the best of circumstances and would be atrociously expensive in the best of circumstances.

    Therefore, it’s not a good idea and, really, proposed or not, it’s not really a law.

  15. A person, convicted felon or not, can get parts to build a “gun” even if they aren’t using 80 percent receivers or production gun parts…
    You can build a gun with parts from Home Depot…. what, will they ban plumbing parts next?…..
    These people are sick and evil…. they want to release criminals and disarm law abiding citizens…. if that isn’t enough to get Americans to STOCK UP on firearms and ammunition, NOTHING WILL!!!!

  16. “Currently, convicted felons – who have no right to possess a gun – can legally obtain everything needed to make a gun, despite laws barring them from possessing one.”

    Depending upon the actions taken and the number of people involved, prosecutors may be able to charge the felon or felons with Conspiracy to violate firearm laws. If at least one of them commits one criminal act in the course of the conspiracy, even if they do not succeed they can all be charged. Even if it is only two people and all one of them did was buy some tools or provide the money.

    If the crime being planned by two or more conspirators violates Federal drug laws, a charge of Conspiracy becomes easier to bring as the need to prove at least one overt act toward completing the crime is not required.

    • To them, it’s just another charge to add to the list. It doesn’t mean much and becomes easy to blow off and ignore.

      • Well yeah I agree, to the criminal it is all just noise.

        My point is to the hoplophobic talking head, it is simply not true that a criminal who abuses the lawful means of obtaining a gun has not committed a crime. Merely the planning to do so can be a crime all by itself, without any gun ever having been obtained.

    • California has no constructive intent laws (case law or otherwise). The Feds on the other hand would go after that like gang busters (literally).

  17. Here in Seattle we do not lock up felons who are in possession of guns. Well, after they kill someone then we might think about it. Instead of worrying about “what ifs?” she might consider the fact that many urban centers have given up on solving murders (Chicago and its 13% clearance rate), and that serial felons just don’t see a lot of jail time anymore. When 80%+ of all homicides are directly related to gangs/illegal drugs, she might consider dealing with that first. But that isn’t any fun. So the hell with that noise.

    • Exactly. This is all just noise. Criminals couldn’t care less about serial numbers. It’s why scratching/grinding/filing the numbers of is even a thing. Why this isn’t completely obvious is beyond me. It’s difficult for me to take any of this seriously.

  18. She’s technically right, but practically wrong. As soon as a felon puts together a gun, whether from an 80% receiver and parts, or pipes and rubber bands, they’re felons in possession of a firearm. Felons will buy factory made black market guns 99%+ of the time. Those guns usually have serial numbers, yet knowing who those guns were stolen from or who did a straw purchase doesn’t link the gun to the criminal. They don’t buy from private citizens posting ads because the citizen will cooperate with police and give descriptions.

  19. She’s purdy, I’d agree with her all the way until the sun came up and then some. But no you can have my gun but you don’t get my firearms

  20. Once again she and her ilk have total faith in laws stopping criminals. They only stop the law abiding but that’s ok because the real intent is to control everyone.

    • it is why only the second part of your comment is true.

      and this will reverberate with the public because ~they~ shouldn’t have unfettered access. make them break a law to get the parts!

  21. It’s illegal for someone who has lost their drivers license because of DUI’s to drive also but they do it anyway. They can also buy alcohol wherever and whenever they like. What’s the fucking point here??

  22. Watching Live PD or bodycam footage of arrests you will notice alot of these criminals have nicer guns than the TTAG staff.

    Why would they bother building ghost guns when they steal the best stuff from boomers pickup trucks or gun stores?

  23. The problem with Watts, Mini-Mike and their minions is that they are only telling part of the truth. Telling a 1/2 truth and spinning it to your agenda is the same telling a lie. Lying by omission.

    In the court of public opinion 99% of those who hear the anti-gun crap won’t think past the lie or even question the underlying premise. They will take it at face value. Hence our problem. The media is Mini-Mike’s willing propaganda machine and will resists all of our efforts to get the truth to the masses that they are lying to.

  24. A few things come to mind when thinking about her statement as a whole. She quotes how it is currently legally possible for a felon to purchase the parts to assemble a firearm, and points to the the article’s claims that this makes it harder for the police to determine the weapon’s origin. Let’s look at these issues and their implications.

    First, is this a problem that actually exists, in practice? Is there even a statistically significant number of crimes that are committed with kit guns assembled from 80% receivers? Are there any? Like other people have said, once an unserialized kit gun is created by a felon, they are illegally in possession of a firearm. What then, is the difference once between the new gun and a gun acquired illegally by any other means, once it begins to change hands? The phrase “A felon does not need a background check to aquire…” is totally meaningless when you consider that a felon intent on committing further crime has other far more likely, already illegal, options for obtaining a gun.

    Second, the idea that a modern kit gun is somehow “untraceable” in the days of the internet is laughable. When’s the last time you bought parts for a home build with cash, in person, from someone who does not keep retail records? How much forensic evidence do you think you left on the last build you put together? All it takes is a subpoena to Palmetto State or a fingerprint lifted from a bolt carrier and law enforcement has enough evidence to reasonably show that a felon is involved with assembling a gun that they cannot legally own or transfer. It’s easier to track serialized parts, but it’s just as easy (and already illegal) to remove serial numbers, or for a stolen gun to change hands so many times that it doesn’t matter anymore who the last legal owner was (and they often do, to an astronomically greater degree than home-built weapons). And in that case, is the proposal to serialize more gun parts, or to regulate and restrict them, even when 99.99% of the people buying them are doing so legally and safely?

    Third, is the intent of legislation to lower recidivism in violent felons or to merely infringe on gun ownership? If it truly is the former, then penalize felons on parole for constructive ownership of firearms parts. I suspect it’s more the latter, hence the call for blanket restrictions on kit parts as opposed to restricting the freedoms of only those who have proven themselves to be likely offenders.

    Lastly, while she didn’t directly state this, it’s asinine to think that there’s the potential for a massive criminal enterprise to spring up of people assembling AR’s and Glocks from 80% receivers for the purpose of black market sale. This is the fear that is often invoked when this discussion comes up, it does not strike me as the most effective way for someone to make money off of illegal gun sales, especially compared to illegal importation (already heavily, and often ineffectively, regulated) or coordinated straw purchases along with sales to known prohibited persons (already very illegal). Let’s entertain the hypothetical though: if you’re already willing to tool up for massive illegal gun production, then why would you purchase several crucial parts in your assembly from established retailers (who keep records) that require established payment processors (who also keep records) who have to ship it to a mailing address? At that point, it really is just as simple for an entrepreneurial felon to invest in a CNC mill and a 3D printer, and they will, as long as the demand is there. Barrels are still difficult to do in-house, but seeing as how I haven’t heard of any massive scandal so far where Faxon parts are magically showing up in all those 3D-printed AR’s that aren’t actually used to commit street crime, I think we’re looking at uninformed solutions to problems that don’t exist. The problem is not the existence of 80% receivers, it’s the existence of gunsmithing and machining, which is impossible to regulate, especially if there’s a sudden black market demand for it. Ask anyone who’s tried to enforce laws on any of the numerous steps of the illegal drug supply chain just how creative someone who’s already committed to breaking the law can be.

    So large-scale illegal production/procurement would be largely unaffected by regulating parts, while ownership by a felon of completed firearms is already illegal, and direct enforcement against it would be a much more effective place to start if it is still actually an issue. So who’s left besides legitimate hobbyists? A lone actor without a criminal history making and selling kit guns to people who go on to use them in crimes? This is already illegal on several counts. How would it be any different than if this hypothetical individual just made straw purchases and was smart enough to deface the serials? What does regulating parts do in this case that regular police work can’t? How long would this person survive before one of their customers turns on them for a plea deal? They’d need organization, and a network, to stay out of reach of existing laws, and at that point it just becomes more similar to the large-scale scenario I was describing earlier.

    With things like this I always have a hard time getting a read on whether the person is willfully ignorant due to bias, well-meaning but misinformed, or has ulterior motives hidden by emotional rhetoric. The reality is that the barrier of entry for someone to obtain a craft-built weapon capable of threatening (or taking) someone’s life is, and has always been, uncomfortably low. Just take a look around a hardware store. It’s easy to scare someone with the idea that someone out there is making a gun in their garage and there’s no way to stop them, but if you can take a risk to walk across a busy parking lot, then maybe you can live with the fact that nearly everyone you meet already has a way to end your life effortlessly. No amount of regulation can change that without fundamentally altering the structure of our society to the point where the loss of personal liberty does not outweigh the minimal gains in safety.

    And maybe, just maybe, the best solution is to empower individuals to defend their own lives with proportional force, if the need arises.

    Like most gun safety proposals, what Miss Watt’s is implying here falls into the trap of being largely targeted at the overwhelming majority of gun owners who do not engage in crime, violent or otherwise, without actually addressing the edge cases where the crime is occurring. If you want fewer felons, then work with the felons. If you want to make it harder for them to obtain guns, then start with the main means they are using currently, which is stolen firearms; although remember that the trade of such is already illegal and impossible to track without spending resources to focus specifically on bad actors. Maybe try that first instead of punishing an entire class of law-abiding enthusiasts.

    If your goal is for there to be fewer guns overall, then realize that regulations only work on people who can be leveraged to follow them. You can attempt to regulate 80% receiver and parts companies into bankruptcy, but all the while some crime boss is going to be sitting in his warehouse full of 3D printers and machine tools, laughing. Assuming he’s not just unloading a truck full of AK’s that just came across the border.

    And before you say “well just because it won’t be perfect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something”, maybe first give a shred of evidence that there’s actually a problem with kit guns in the first place.

  25. Consider the end game of statements like Ms. Watts. If she and any other commie dictator-in-waiting makes an issue of “parts” there will be the inevitable taxing of parts, production control on parts, registration of parts and of course, all this being under government oversight, the bribery to circumvent the regulations of parts.
    Access to your rights by being extorted, that will be the lot of the law abiding if the regulators (all gun grabbers and SJWs) get their way.

  26. Thank you for providing such useful information. I’ve been having trouble coming up with many questions about this topic. I’ll stick with you! moto x3m

Comments are closed.