Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schumer seeks to close loophole that allows 'ghost guns' to be made, sold

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday that he’s calling on the federal government to close a loophole that allows unregistered “ghost guns” to be made and sold. 

Ghost guns are firearms built from gun parts, like stocks and barrels, that are purchased separately.

Since the parts are not required to have serial numbers and don’t require a background check to buy, they are untraceable, making it next to impossible for law enforcement to track down sellers. 

It also means that people with criminal records, or who otherwise are not authorized to own a gun, are able to access them.

Schumer said the federal government has the power to stop this “right now.”

“I’m asking the DOJ, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF, to amend the definition of a firearm to include these deadly parts,” he said.

Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer holds up a "ghost gun" confiscated by Rochester police. The gun does not have a serial number as it was constructed from separately sold parts.

By changing the definition, he said it closes a loophole that allows ghost guns to be sold and assembled. He said state laws alone won’t do enough because people can still purchase gun parts out of state online.

Mayor Lovely Warren said that it’s about preventing further crimes involving ghost guns. 

“These types of weapons can and have been used to commit crimes in our communities, and we want it to stop now,” she said.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said that hobbyists who build their own guns for recreational use will still be able to do so, but will have to go through a background check.

“But those who have a reason to avoid background checks or are trying to avoid accountability and the law and have been convicted of felonies should not and would not be able to purchase these parts,” he said.

Schumer said there has been a recent surge in ghost guns. In the last two years, he said, 23 have been seized in Monroe County.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.