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“Ghost Guns” could present additional challenges during gun crime investigations

As the City of Portland continues to grapple with out-of-control gun violence, those working to...
As the City of Portland continues to grapple with out-of-control gun violence, those working to curb the violence are facing a new problem - guns that homemade and untraceable or "ghost guns."
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 6:25 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - As the City of Portland continues to grapple with out-of-control gun violence, those working to curb the violence are facing a new problem - guns that homemade and untraceable or “ghost guns.”

“A ghost gun is a do-it-yourself. A homemade gun made from easy to get building blocks that you can assemble in terms of making a functioning firearm,” said Kieran Ramsey, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland Field Office.

Those who assemble ghost guns typically order individual gun parts online, with no serial number, or use 3D printers at home to make their own parts.

“They’re easy to do. All you have to do is go on your computer. You can upload or download the schematics. And if you have a 3D printer, you can print out proportions of that,” said State Senator James Manning, a former police officer and current member of the Eugene Police Foundation.

Manning introduced a bill in the Senate that would create stiff penalties for making and distributing ghost guns. SB-1577 would punish the manufacture, importing, or transfer of undetectable firearms with a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

“In California, the amount of ghost guns they have detected are in the hundreds of thousands,” said Manning. “So it’s just one state down. That means those guns are potentially coming up here through Oregon and perhaps to Washington state as well.”

There is evidence that is already happening. In the last three months, the Metro Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between the FBI, ATF and Portland area law enforcement agencies, has recovered three ghost guns in local investigations.

“It’s a problem in the fact that ghost guns certainly could be the weapon of choice for violent criminals out there,” said Ramsey.

With the City of Portland already approaching 200 shootings so far this year, untraceable guns could add yet another challenge for investigators.