Nevada must stop the carnage caused by ghost guns

ghost guns
Photos from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showing Nevada-based Polymer80 "ghost guns" being sold at a gun show. (Photos included in legislative presentation by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.)

Nevada is no stranger to gun violence. We are home to the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Thousands of lives were impacted by the tragedy occurring on Oct. 1, 2017. The victims, the survivors, and their families were all touched by gun violence in a way most of us hope to never understand.

We took small steps to address gun violence in the 2019 legislative session but we must do more.

We must act soon to pass AB 286 in the Nevada Senate. Addressing gun violence takes courage and tenacity. I expect this out of our legislators as they move forward with this important bill. A lot of people don’t even know that ghost guns exist. This might cause some to argue that this bill is irrelevant because these guns are not much of an issue overall. This is absolutely incorrect. Ignorance about a problem does not absolve us from our responsibility to fix said problem.

Ghost guns are untraceable because they do not contain serial numbers. Federally, every firearm must contain serial numbers. Kits sold on the internet, with pieces that are easily assembled and fully functional within minutes, do not qualify as a firearm according to the federal government. They still operate just as any other firearm. They use bullets and they can cause the same devastation that a federally recognized firearm can cause. This process provides a loophole to get around background checks. These guns are easily purchased by any age group online and they are incredibly cheap compared to purchasing a firearm from a reputable dealer or business.

Sadly, Nevada is home to one of the largest dealers of ghost guns in the U.S – Polymer80. Just last week, a series of shootings in San Diego sparked concern about the influx of ghost guns being trafficked into communities in California. In 2019, Los Angeles recovered more than 700 ghost guns that were linked to Polymer80. We do not want to be known for this. Nevada is too great a state to have a legacy that includes distribution of dangerous firearms that are used in crimes because they cannot be easily traced.

As the Director of Faith Organizing Alliance and a proud Nevadan I urge our senators to hold a hearing on AB 286. Banning ghost guns is a crucial step toward ending gun violence. We must address this issue as we have seen shooting after shooting in the last month. Ignoring this problem is no longer an option. Acting now is our only option to protect our residents and communities.