NY lawmakers weigh in on federal ‘ghost gun’ ban

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Biden Administration continues its crackdown on "ghost guns" announcing on Monday that "Buy, Build, Shoot" kits are now subjected to the same federal laws that apply to other firearms.

So-called "ghost guns" have found their way into the Rochester area, and have been used in several recent shooting incidents. These guns are not only a problem here, authorities say there’s a growing market for these weapons.

"These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals. We’re going to do everything that we can do to deprive them of that choice, and when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time," said President Joe Biden.

In many parts of the country, gun violence is on a rise, and for quite some time now ghost guns are being recovered at crime scenes. A ghost gun is a real gun, but some of the parts are sold separately in what’s being called a "buy, build, shoot" kit. The only thing missing from these weapons is a valid serial number.

"Today the United States Department of Justice is making it illegal for a business to manufacture one of these kits without a serial number," Biden said. "When they show up at a crime scene they can’t be traced. Harder to find and prove who used them."

Sen. Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer said gun runners have been using this loophole to sell these guns and applauded the President’s announcement.

"Long overdue, and I’m so glad they’re gonna do it. It should help decrease gun violence here in Rochester, and throughout America," Schumer said.

Biden also announced that his administration will target rogue gun dealers, disrupt illegal gun trafficking, fund known strategies that reduce gun crimes, and fund jobs and training for young people. Recently, News10NBC talked to Federal Prosecutor Andy Rodriguez after Albany criminalized the sale of ghost guns in the state.

"We’re gonna target not just the people who are using these guns on the street, but the people who are providing them to those who use them on the street. The people who are manufacturing them in their homes, and selling them to people who are prohibited. We’re coming after them," Rodriguez said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul released a statement saying, "Today, President Biden and the Department of Justice announced additional steps to crack down on ghost guns, including making "buy, build, shoot" kits subject to the same federal laws that apply to other firearms. I applaud President Biden for closing this loophole that threatened the safety of our communities, and I want to thank the President for his ongoing partnership. No one should be able to circumvent the process to gain access to deadly weapons, especially those that take just 30 minutes to assemble and whose parts often cost less than $100. Just last week, three teens were shot and one was killed while walking home from school in the South Bronx with what police believe was a ghost gun.

"We are seeing a significant increase in the number of ghost guns used in deadly shootings across our state. That’s why in October, I took action to criminalize the sale of ghost guns and require gunsmiths to register firearms they assemble. I also established a nation-leading Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, bringing together ten states, federal agencies, and local law enforcement agencies. The Task Force is having an immediate impact, taking hundreds of guns – including ghost guns – off the streets each month.

"We are treating gun violence as the public health and safety crisis that it is, devoting a historic $227 million in our FY2023 budget for gun violence prevention programs that aim to address the root causes of this epidemic. I pledge that we will continue to work with our partners at the local, state and federal levels to crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons, get guns off our streets, and save lives."

News10NBC did reach out to a few local Republican leaders to hear what they had to say about Biden’s announcement, but no one was available for comment Monday night.