HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Ghost guns live up to their name — they are hard to track, easy to buy and still legal to purchase online.
With no serial numbers and no way to track them, they continue to be one of the fastest-growing firearm categories in Connecticut.
State lawmakers are hoping to pass legislation that would help track down ghost guns in Connecticut.
The legislation would require that ghost guns purchased after 2019 must be registered with the state of Connecticut.
“They are just kind of a free-floating firearm,” Hartford Police Sgt. Chris Mastroianni said.
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Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said city officers found 58 last year, twice as many as the year before. Two years ago, it was seven.
When people hear the term ghost guns, they often think of 3D-printed, plastic guns. The guns seized in Hartford are fully functioning handguns, like the ones you can buy on the shelf at gun stores.
Ghost gun numbers are growing so fast, the Hartford Police Department has launched a deep dive investigation into the firearms.
“We try to do really in depth debriefing interviews did they buy the gun on the Internet?” Mastroianni said. “Did they put it together themselves? Or did they buy it through somebody else? We try and backtrack that information to help us find out where these are coming from.”
The majority of them are bought online with no background check and no serial number.
“There were kits you could buy on the Internet in the past few years, which were 80% complete firearms however they came with the rest of the parts and instructions on how to make it a fully functioning firearm,” Mastroianni said.
Now the ATF has made these “ghost gun kits” illegal, but parts are still sold online because of loopholes. That makes it easy for criminals to modify handguns to shoot more bullets at a faster speed.
“Those are difficult, and a lot of those are easy to make fully automatic they’re easy to manipulate with 3-D printers and things like that, so it has created a challenge for us for sure,” Mastroianni said.
There are less than two dozen registered ghost guns in Connecticut. Supporters of legislation now before the Connecticut General Assembly hope to dramatically increase this number by requiring all homemade firearms to be registered.