Brownells is one of 10 retailers that the New York Attorney General Letita James and NYC Mayor Mike Adams, along with support from Governor Hochul no doubt, have targeted in a series of suits they say are meant to combat ‘ghost guns’ within their states.
The suit alleges that these retailers sell parts that can be assembled into what the ATF is now referring to as a PMF, a Privately Made Firearm, and can be “sold” without a background check.
This is stretch of the truth as the only components that can be sold without a background check are ones the ATF has stated are not firearms. The ATF has additionally confirmed the serial numbers are not required when making a PMF but they are required when selling it. A person prohibited from possessing a serialized firearm is equally in violation of the law if they possess a PMF. Any retailer in New York transferring a PMF would be required to serialize it per ATF and conduct the state and federal compliant checks.
The AG and Mayor contend that ‘ghost guns’ have been found at an increasing number of crime scenes and are blaming companies like Brownells for it.
“These are dangerous weapons,” Adams, a former police officer, said at a Manhattan news conference with James and other officials. “We should not think these are just kits used for hobbyists. They are being used by murderers. All of them are illegal.”
From the start of 2016 through the close of 2020, the ATF reported some 24,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered nationally, not just in New York, by law enforcement from potential crime scenes. Roughly 325 homicides or attempted homicides were committed using the weapons.
To put that in scale. From 2016 to 2020 the FBI UCR states:
For 2016 – 2020, there were 30,133 homicide incidents, and 32,600 offenses reported in the United States by at most 7,114 law enforcement agencies that submitted National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, and covers 33% of the total population.
For 2016 – 2020, there were 1,262,078 aggravated-assault incidents, and 1,573,778 offenses reported in the United States by at most 7,114 law enforcement agencies that submitted National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, and covers 33% of the total population.HOW THESE NUMBERS ARE CALCULATED
The FBI does not filter by attempted murder in their statistics, it is only distinguished from aggravated assault by the premediated intent to kill in the assault so I use the AA stat here.
So even if we take the abbreviated homicide information from NIBRS and made that a totality of incidents, or we triple the number of ghost guns to account for fact the the NIBRS is only covering 33% of the population (both scientifically suspect but I’ll indulge it since it errs in New York’s favor) that means ghost guns account for less than 1% of weapons used in homicides if every single one of them was used in a homicide that made it into the NIBRS.
But they included attempted homicides, which means the percentage drops even further as some of those 325 ‘Ghost Guns‘ were used in the aggravated assault category and not the homicide. The ratio of offense is 50 to 1, which if we apply that to the 325 ghost guns means they were at 6 or 7 murder offenses.
Put another way, the CDC tracked 76,713 firearm homicides from 2016 to 2020. This means that if 324 out of the 325 were homicides and only one was an attempted homicide and if each ghost gun killed two people (both of these are absurd over estimations ) that ghost guns accounted for .84% of firearm homicide deaths during this five year period and the percentage of total homicides is even smaller.
So even by wildly overestimating and giving an absolutely astonishing benefit of the doubt to Adams, James, and Hochul, they are attempting to sue away less than 1% of the nation’s homicide problem because a piece of plastic or metal doesn’t have a number on it. So are they pursuing good fundamental policy or are they just sore losers who finally got called on their anti-2A agenda?
The numbers seem to indicate something when you do a bit of math, just saying.
ETA: In conjunction with this story, Brownells is reporting the loss of their shipping account with UPS.
Now, full disclosure, I like Brownells.
I bought my wonderfully fun Zenith (MKE Era) MP5 from them while I was at school in Des Moines. I can tell you, first hand, that they were very cognizant of the rules for any manner of out of state purchaser. I was an out of state purchaser and we made arrangements to ship the gun so I could do all the proper transfer forms within my home state, as required by Federal law at a Michigan FFL. I essentially completed an online purchase in person and had it shipped to the appropriate FFL for all the final legal items.
My friend and classmate wanted to purchase an AR lower while we were there and Brownells was equally cognizant of his state’s requirements for the lower as they were with mine for the pistol transfer.
While I cannot say for certain that no violations have ever been shipped by the Brownells warehouse, their behavior during my direct interactions with them indicate an extremely detailed level of care when it comes to the legalities of each state.