New York lawmakers took action this week to end “ghost guns”. What exactly is a “phantom weapon” and what does the law mean?
If you own a gun, you probably know that there should be a serial number and manufacturer on the gun. If it doesn’t have these things on it, it’s considered a “ghost gun”. The idea is that if a gun is used in a crime and it has these things on it, the gun can be traced back to someone who owns it.
According to the New York Senate, before this law was passed, there was a loophole called the “unfinished receiver” that would allow people to buy the parts they needed to build an untraceable and unregistered firearm without ever going through a background check.
“With gun violence on the rise across the country, now is the time to take action to close the dangerous loopholes that needlessly endanger the safety of New Yorkers.” – sponsor of the bill, Senator Anna M. Kaplan
The bill is called “The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act” and is named after Scott Beigel, a teacher who gave his life protecting his students during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A second bill was also passed, titled The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act. So what does the bill do? The bill seeks to ban the sale and possession of phantom weapons and ensure law enforcement has the tools to track the manufacture and sale of all firearms in New York City.
Here are the two laws and what they do:
Unfinished Receivers Act Scott J. Beigel
- Defines what constitutes an unfinished frame or receptor
- Illegal possession of an unfinished frame or receiver
- Prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle or shotgun by persons who are otherwise legally prohibited from possessing such weapons
- Makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act
- Defines a “phantom weapon” as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that is not serialized and registered according to state or federal law
- Prohibits the possession of phantom weapons by anyone except a licensed gunsmith
- Completely prohibits the sale of ghost weapons
- Prohibits the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
- Requires New York gunsmiths to serialize any unfinished firearms, shotguns, shotguns or frames or receivers they manufacture or assemble, and register any unfinished firearms, frames, or receivers that are not otherwise covered by the federal law on serialization with the State Police Division
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