Ghost gun—the very name invokes the image of something illegal, something hidden, something meant for unlawful ends. This name for unregistered firearms was chosen just for that purpose—to make it feel like such firearms are tainted by ill intent. The Biden administration has targeted them since ascending to office, and many liberal states have already passed their own ghost gun bans. On Monday, the President took executive and regulatory action to ban ghost guns.
But what is a ghost gun, why do progressives oppose it, and why is it being banned now?
Ghost guns are more properly known as unregistered firearms. As the firearm is not registered, it does not have a serial number, and thus the local, state, and federal governments are not able to easily track the ownership of a firearm or prevent its sale to a prohibited individual. This is frightening to the government, as it means that these guns could be used in crimes without any way to track who owns the gun. Thus, the Biden Administration has banned the kits that make it fairly straightforward to manufacture such a gun at home.
On the surface, this seems open and shut—ghost guns make it easier to get away with crimes, therefore banning them is an action that will make it harder to get away with crimes, and thus increase public safety. Right?
Wrong, for a few reasons. The first reason is the fallacious assumption that a registered firearm is can always be tracked. Tracing the serial number of a firearm only tells the police who bought the firearm however many years ago—not who used it. Additionally, criminals can simply destroy the serial number on a firearm. It is illegal to remove a gun’s serial number—but it is also illegal to use guns to commit crime, so many criminals would commit the minor crime to help get away with the major crime.
Another fallacious assumption is that banning ghost guns would prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. In many cases, gun crimes are committed with stolen guns—it is far easier to smash the window of a car and grab a gun (cars are the most common places guns are stolen from) than it is to make an unregistered firearm. Additionally, guns have been stolen from railway cars, like a recent theft in California, and even from police cars, like another recent theft in California. California has, of course, banned ghost guns, “assault weapons,” and modern pistols, yet, somehow, criminals still manage to find themselves in possession of firearms. Again, many criminals will commit the minor crime to help get away with the major crime.
People who intend to commit crimes with guns are unlikely to buy a firearm at a gun store and go through the requisite background check. It’s easier just to steal a gun. A ban on unregistered firearms will do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals—instead, it will simply reduce the options available to law-abiding citizens.
Unregistered firearms are built and used by many law-abiding citizens for a variety of reasons, the most common of which being a desire for privacy. This desire is founded in the American spirit—Lexington and Concord, which started the American Revolution, were a resistance to British gun confiscation. There’s a very real danger that someday, the government would use its ability to track what guns law-abiding citizens own is so that it can later confiscate them.
My grandmother, who survived Nazi occupation in Czechoslovakia and later escaped Soviet rule, tells stories of the Nazis, and later the Soviets, going door to door with a list of gun owners in her town. They used this list, obtained from the police department and local gun stores, to confiscate firearms and ensure that no one had any means to resist their brutal oppression. There is a legitimate fear that, one day, the same could happen here—which would spell the doom of liberty and freedom as we know them.