Ghost Guns: A New Wrinkle

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

Only a few days ago, we examined the ghost gun issue, how ignorant most activists are about the issue, and how most lawmakers don’t understand the extent of the issue or how futile their attempts at controlling them would be. But this morning there’s a new wrinkle; a joint UK/Spanish task force has been intercepting replica guns that have been converted into actual bullet-launchers.

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When people push the idea of gun control, they often look to Europe for examples. They look at the low homicide rates over there along with the low number of guns in civilian hands and argue that we could have the same thing if we’d just give up this silly idea that our rights matter.

First, there’s more going on than whether or not we have gun control, as noted by our non-gun homicide rates being higher than many European nations’ total homicide rates.

Second, these nations do have issues with guns. Some pretty significant problems from the look of a recent incident.

More than 700 firearms have been seized in a five-year operation by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Spain’s Guardia Civil to prevent replica guns that can easily be converted into lethal weapons from entering Britain, the NCA said on Sunday.

Since 2019, the NCA and Guardia Civil – which has jurisdiction in Spain for the national control of firearms- have been jointly working on Project Vizardlike to combat the threat.

The operation has so far resulted in the seizure of 703 firearms, 74 arrests and 50 convictions, the NCA said.

Here’s the onion:

But they’re not guns, someone will probably argue, and they’re not wrong. These are not functional firearms.

What they are is guns that can be readily converted into functional firearms. And they have–these weapons account for a lot of the guns found in criminal hands in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. These are treated as firearms in the UK and, as such, are a good opportunity to discuss how gun control isn’t the end all, be all many in the US think.

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If these people were not criminals, and were they engaged in something besides building guns for criminals, one would almost have to admire their enterprise.

I find this timely and interesting, as it’s an angle I had never thought of; replica guns aren’t really my cup of tea (I prefer the real thing), and I can’t say as I’ve ever handled a replica gun, much less examined one with the possibility of converting it into a working firearm. Obviously, it’s possible, and just as obviously, it’s another ghost gun issue, further evidence that if a criminal wants a gun, he’s gonna get a gun. Even if gun control laws succeeded in sweeping somewhere between 400,000 and a billion guns out of American society, guns are easy enough to fabricate, and for that matter, there are hundreds of thousands of black-powder guns out there today, which are not and never have been regulated as firearms at the federal level. They can be bought by mail order, there is no background check required (at the federal level – some states require them for black-powder arms), and black-powder guns can be deucedly effective. When I was a teen, I had an 1851 Navy Colt replica, a .36-caliber cap-and-ball revolver, and it was a great piece; lean, light, accurate, slick as a snake. I spent a summer teaching myself reflex shooting with it (that’s shooting without using the sights — “shooting from the hip,” if you like — and got pretty good, good enough to put five .36 balls in a paper plate at 10 yards as fast as I could thumb the hammer back and pull the trigger.

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Who is to say a halfway-motivated criminal couldn’t do likewise?

Ghost gun laws are doomed to failure; this episode is another nail in that coffin. Gun-control laws, in general, if you cast them as a crime control issue, are likewise doomed to failure. Maybe — just maybe — we should start looking at why people commit criminal acts, and address those causes, instead of listening to bloviating politicians and hysterical activists who have no idea what they’re talking about.

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