He’s not old enough to vote, but he can buy a ghost gun kit.

He’s not old enough to buy tobacco, but he can buy a ghost gun kit.

He’s not old enough to buy liquor, but he can buy a ghost gun kit.

Do you see any potential problems with that?

“How easy it really is”

“I’ve heard it’s really easy to buy ghost gun kits online,” says a 17-year-old senior in high school, “and today I’m going to find out how easy it really is.”

He decides to buy the kit over the internet. Click the image to see the video he created about it:

17-year-old buys a ghost gun kit

No background check is necessary. Background checks are for traditional guns, and for completed parts of traditional guns. Ghost guns fall through a legal crack that gets around background checks for gun parts that require additional handiwork.

Once the parts have arrived, the 17-year-old can use common tools to modify and assemble the parts into a handgun. The handgun will fire 9mm rounds capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. Or death, depending on how the gun is aimed.

When complete, the handgun will not have a serial number. The 17-year-old can fire it a few times and give it to a friend to use, and there will be no way to trace it back to its original owner or seller.

Team ENOUGH and ghost guns

We’re lucky. The 17-year-old is a member of the San Diego chapter of Team ENOUGH, a youth-led organization representing students who are dedicated to gun violence prevention.

He is not buying a ghost gun kit so that he can commit suicide or a crime. He is buying it to demonstrate how perversely easy it is for just about anybody to get dangerously close to possessing a lethal weapon without a background check or a serial number.

Ghost guns are at the center of a “flourishing and unregulated online market” now. They are showing up in increasing numbers of crimes committed in places like Los Angeles; Chicago; Syracuse, New York; Columbia, South Carolina; and San Jose, California.

Mayors are troubled by them. Legislators are sponsoring bills about them. The President has taken initial actions to help stop their proliferation.

In other words, a number of people are trying, based on evidence like body counts and firearms recovered from crime scenes, to rein in the spread of ghost guns.

“So why the drama?”

Not everyone is concerned about easy access to ghost guns or thinks it is a problem. “Why the drama?” they ask.

Sometimes they are more concerned about the rights of law-abiding citizens, given that ghost gun kits are not against the law. “Go after the criminals a little harder,” they say.

But not all purchasers of ghost gun kits will use them in law-abiding ways. And not all 17-year-olds will think clearly about abiding by the law once they have assembled a ghost gun.

That’s why the drama.

John White is a volunteer with SD4GVP.

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