GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Ghost guns don’t have serial numbers, they can be built using gun part kits people can buy online or even 3-D printers, and they have been popping up in criminal cases around the country.
Green Bay hasn’t been spared. According to a criminal complaint obtained by Local Five News, police officers found a ghost gun at the crime scene of a shooting that occurred on Dec. 5 at an apartment complex in the 2600 block of Humboldt Road.
Green Bay police officials told Local Five News that in 2022 they seized two ghost guns.
“It’s hard to determine where it came from and who had it,” said Green Bay Police Department captain Jeff Brester.
Green Bay’s ghost gun situation has been minor compared to other communities in Wisconsin.
Brester credits a strong partnership his department has with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“I’d like to think the people around here aren’t as hardened criminals as people in other cities which makes Green Bay a safer city to live in and we don’t have to deal with a lot of those problems,” said Brester.
For comparison purposes, Milwaukee Police officials say they’ve seized over 50 ghost guns this year, after seizing 37 in 2021, and just eight in 2020.
“We’re seeing a rise in the purchase of all types of guns since 2020,” said Nick Matuszewski who is a policy and strategic partnership associate for an organization called Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. “Some of it has to do with during the pandemic and George Floyd protests there was a lot of concern from certain politicians trying to raise the temperature on the country.”
When it comes to the best way of reducing the number of ghost guns in our communities, people have different ideas on what to do.
This year the Biden administration issued a new rule that modernizes the definition of a firearm and makes clear that parts kits used to build firearms, or functional “frames” or “receivers” of weapons, are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms.
“We need a ban on possessing ghost guns altogether, we need to have stricter laws to make sure that guns that don’t have serial numbers are taken out of existence and not sold and we need to make sure we have better background check systems,” said Matuszewski.
Matuszewski also pointed out states with the strictest gun control laws have the lowest gun crime rates.
According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the five states with the lowest firearm mortality rate are Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York.
Giffords Law Center, which is an organization aimed at fighting against gun lobbyists, rates Rhode Island a ‘B’ and the other four states an ‘A’ in terms of the strength of their gun laws.
Not everybody believes gun control is the answer to limiting ghost guns though.
Nik Clark, who is the president of Wisconsin Carry in Milwaukee, points out that most people who purchase the gun part kits typically used to build ghost guns are hobbyists or gun collectors, not criminals. He said many people prefer guns without serial numbers because they don’t trust the government and don’t want the government to know how many guns they have or what kind of guns they are.
He said that the people purchasing the ghost guns aren’t the ones committing the violent crimes.
“What people don’t consider is yes there’s gun control if it stops just one criminal, but gun control has an impact on the law-abiding if it prevents one law-abiding citizen from having a gun to use for self-defense,” said Clark.
Clark also points out that most criminals don’t buy their guns themselves, rather they get them from another person or steal it. That means even if the gun had a serial number on it wouldn’t be traced back to the criminal.
He offered deterring people from committing gun crimes by enacting strong criminal penalties as an alternative to gun control.