The ‘Ghost Gun’ Ban Stands in Nevada. A Picture of Things to Come?

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du upheld the Nevada law that banned unserialized firearms. She expressed doubts that legal challenges would succeed and stated the law was “a valid exercise of the governments’ police power.”

This is troubling as the ATF is looking to take action at the Federal level (still not congress, still not their job) to redefine what a firearm receiver is and mandate their serialization. [go comment on that rule change]

The challenge to the law’s implementation was based on 5th Amendment protections against government seizure of property, as well as the normal 2nd Amendment challenges. Ultimately those arguments didn’t sway Judge Du as she said the freedom to keep and bear serialized firearms, the majority of commercial arms, was as normal.

That is going to be a strong crux of the federal argument to mandate serial numbers, that most firearms have them. That serialization also mandating a NICS or state background check, no matter how delayed, for the possession of the firearm to proceed.

Magic Talisman Syndrome – Federal Edition

I’ve talked about the ‘magic talisman’ method of self defense here before. Where people believe that simply owning a gun makes them safer. Owning a gun does not make you safer to any degree, knowing how to properly use a gun that you own does. It’s the same as owning a musical instrument or golf clubs, you are an owner and not a musician or golfer.

The police like to pull out serial numbers in the same manner. Serialized firearms are traceable, right? They can be tracked and therefore ‘safe’ (or less dangerous) than unserialized firearms.

Let’s be clear. The firearm databases, like registered pistols, and the trace reports law enforcement can generate at the dealer and manufacturer levels provide useful tangential data, they do not make or break individual homicides or assault cases. There isn’t some rash of murders and violent crimes where an armed assailant got away with it because a firearm without a serial number couldn’t be traced to their possession.

Yes, ‘Ghost Guns’ have been found in more crimes. They became wildly popular. Draco pistols and AR’s have shown up in more crimes too. Why? They became wildly popular. We went from approximately 400,000 AR’s in 1994 to 20,000,000 in 27 years, one generation where the rifle was banned from manufacture for nearly half the time.

Tracking the types of guns used in crime is an important statistic. Tracking where they come from is too. This is information that can be used to find useful patterns and even locate specific illegal sources of arms. But the serial number isn’t the end all be all of that data stream. It is part, but the data also is tracking unserialized firearms, firearms with unknown or destroyed serial numbers, and methods of acquisition.

The unserialized firearm is just one cog in both legal (the majority) and illegal movement of firearms, and not a massive one either. Just a convenient one from an acquisition standpoint. But just because it became popularized, doesn’t mean illegal arms manufacturing was particularly difficult before. And when we take a look at the super-minority of problematic violent offenders and their overall access to arms, worrying about nonserialized weapons this much becomes asinine.

They are moderately harder to track. They do not have a nice convenient 4473 that they were recorded upon. That is it. That is the difference.

“fElOnSz caN gEt TheM!”

Felons can get regular serialized guns too, and do… regularly. The LE and political talking heads are vastly over estimating (or overstating) the difficulty gap between a kit built gun without a serial number getting into prohibited hands and that of any other method, like straw purchase or a purchase or trade that simply ignores a required background check person-to-person. Dealers will continue to do what they can at a store level to spot and stop straw purchases and outright thefts, but they happen.

The possibility of a negative outcome does not overshadow a person’s right to engage in lawful and protected acts. Owning and operating a firearm store could result in that store being robbed (been there), owning a firearm and having it in your vehicle at the time your vehicle is broken into could result in the gun’s theft, and owning a home can result in damages to your home from man or nature.

This is life. But can we stop pretending serial numbers are magic anti-felony talismans.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.