SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After Springfield officers recovered several parts used to build guns from a home of a suicidal man last week, the department is asking more regulations on ghost guns.
Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh said officers were called to home on June 3 for a man reportedly making suicidal statements. The man was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Police returned to the home the next morning after a resident of the home said they found gun parts in the man’s belongings.
In one box, police found gun parts which included the frame to a 9mm firearm with no serial number, parts to an upper internal slide component, a firing pin, trigger assembly kit and frame drilling rig. In another box, they found a slide, guide rod kit, barrel and spring. The man is not in possession of an LTC or FID card but will not be facing any charges for possessing the parts.
Parts like these can be bought online and are shipped to buyers nearly built, and easily able to assemble the remaining parts. The kits lack serial numbers, which is why they are called “ghost guns,” and are near impossible for officials to trace.
Springfield police seized six ghost guns in 2020, 27 in 2021 and as of May officers have already recovered 11 ghost guns in 2022. For a gun to be considered a legal firearm, it must be registered, have a serial number stamped on it and be in possession of a legal authorized owner. Currently in state and federal laws, gun parts or kits are not considered to be firearms, which means they do not apply to gun laws until fully assembled.
The Biden Administration has issued a federal rule expected to take effect this August that would classify ghost gun kits as firearms, which would require serial numbers and sellers to be licensed and would also require a background check on buyers. In Massachusetts, the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security is still considering proposed legislation.
“Our Firearms Investigation Unit and all of our officers work every day to take weapons off of our streets, and the proliferation of ghost guns is becoming a dangerous trend,” Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said. “Ghost guns are of specific concern because they are easy to purchase, easy to build and have few regulations. This allows people who would not otherwise be able to legally purchase a firearm to possess a fully-functioning firearm with no oversight, and potentially use that firearm to cause harm to themselves or others. The lack of a serial number also presents significant challenges when investigating crimes where ghost guns are involved as they cannot be traced back to a suspect, nor can they be traced to a possible manufacturer. Regulation of these weapons is important for the safety of our community, and I am pleased to see legislative efforts that can help to address the dangers ghost guns pose.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Terrific work by the brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department not only responding to a suicidal call and getting this individual the help they need but for continuing to bring awareness on the serious issues ghost guns have in our neighborhoods, state and nation. These ghost guns present a difficult challenge for our law enforcement officials to address as the state and federal laws regulating them are lacking or outdated. We desperately need our state and federal legislatures to pass meaningful and effective laws on ghost guns. In addition, we need the back from our courts to hold those responsible for using or producing ghost guns that are involved in criminal activities to be held accountable. Only by working together with our local law enforcement agencies and having the support of our courts with strong laws on the books to hold these repeat criminal offenders accountable for possession of illegal gun(s)/ghost guns can we truly make a difference and enhance the quality of life and public safety for our residents and business community.”