Volusia County, FL - Several Volusia County businesses are manufacturing and selling ghost guns, but what's a ghost gun?
A 'ghost gun' is the common name for an 80% receiver. That means when you buy one, you're getting a gun that's 80% built, and you have to do the last 20% of the work to make it functional.
A loophole in the law makes it so these ghost guns aren't required to have a serial number and don't have to be registered with the ATF, which is why it's called a ghost gun - it doesn't exist in the federal records and it's untraceable. Additionally, no background checks or waiting periods apply to the purchase of ghost guns because they aren't considered guns until that 20% work is done. "You're just buying a hunk of metal that is ready to be shaped into a gun," said Forrest Buckwald, President of Bucks Gun Rack.
Deputy Chief Jeff Miller with the Holly Hill Police Department thinks this is part of their appeal - some people just like to build things. "From the 1 person that I did talk to that was in favor of this, they said that they like to build things and this is one way that they can do it."
Legally, you can only construct a ghost gun for yourself. You can't buy one, build it, then sell it. "If you make it for another person, you're then manufacturing," said Buckwald. "And that requires a license from the ATF."
Ghost guns are less expensive than their completed counterparts. Buckwald says an 80% receiver might cost $30 to $50, depending on who you get it from. If you get a completed receiver they cost $60 to a $100, and that's where the receiver is completed by a manufacturer and it's legally a gun, even though you still have to put all the parts on it (all the firearm rules apply in this case).
When asked what the benefit is, to a law abiding citizen, to have an untraceable gun, Buckwald replied, "I don't know that there is any benefit." But he added "a prepper that's scared to death that the government's gonna know what he's got... they might like that." When asked the same question, Miller said "I don't know what that person could be thinking, maybe they don't want to pay the background fee. I think it's around $25."
Buckwald's biggest concern regarding ghost guns has to do with liability. "If you manufacture it incorrectly and you somehow blow off your finger or lose an eye, you know who's responsible for that? You are. If you buy a completed firearm from me, god forbid something happens and the gun was defective, it's the manufacturers fault. They have liability insurance to handle that. A homemade gun... the manufacturer's responsible, and you're the manufacturer. So it's all on you." And according to Buckwald, constructing a ghost gun is much more difficult than people think.
Miller said he has 2 main concerns with these ghost guns. The first is that if the gun's stolen, there's no way to trace it back to the owner. So Miller suggests that owners of ghost guns put some sort of identifiable marker on it. Miller's 2nd concern is that this might be an opening for suspected terrorists to get their hands on weapons. But, he said, they're going to get their hands on guns anyways.
Miller did say, to his knowledge, they've never recovered a firearm without a serial number from a criminal in Holly Hill.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2016.