Officers arresting more people for possessing so-called ‘ghost’ guns

Police departments across the state said they’ve been dealing with more and more criminals armed with so-called “ghost” guns.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:56 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - Police departments across the state said they’ve been dealing with more and more criminals armed with so-called “ghost” guns.

They described the guns as homemade weapons that aren’t regulated for safety and are virtually untraceable.

In West Haven, police said the guns are getting into the hands of juveniles, people who don’t have a license to carry firearms, and convicted felons.

Experts said the types of guns are showing up more and more at crime scenes.

“A ghost gun is a gun that is constructed from parts, in some cases parts that need to have some finishing done to it,” said criminal justice expert Kenneth Gray of the University of New Haven.

West Haven police officials said they are seeing people purchase non-functioning guns online and converting them into functioning firearms.

The process is legal, according to the ATF, because the guns are sold as non-functioning weapons. Currently, buying them is not a federal violation.

Gray called that a loophole that’s been putting lives in danger.

“They can buy 80 percent of the gun from a place and have to go elsewhere to buy the other 20 percent,” Gray said. “They can buy almost the entire gun and buy a part elsewhere.”

However, carrying an unregistered gun is illegal because it is untraceable. In Connecticut, every ghost gun that was made after 2019 is completely illegal. However, older weapons are grandfathered in, which makes the law more difficult to enforce.

Still, police said juveniles have even been arrested for buying ghost guns.

People Channel 3 spoke with said they hope something is done soon to stem the tide.

“It’s crazy,” said Mike Stockdale of Guilford. “If you go in and buy a gun that was made by a manufacturer and you’ve passed your checks, that’s one thing. Anything short of that really needs to be clamped down upon.”

West Haven police urged parents to be mindful of what their children are buying online.

“This is a conversation you have to have with your teens,” Gray said. “Let them know that this is something you won’t tolerate. This is something that could lead them to get arrested in the long run.”

Ghost guns are becoming a serious problem for the West Haven Police Department.