In the News

Springfield Police Recover Ghost Gun Parts Following Call for Suicidal Male, Call Attention to Need for Ghost Gun Regulations

|   City News

The Springfield Police Department recovered numerous parts used to build a so-called "ghost gun" last week after responding to a call for service regarding a suicidal male. Possession of such parts is not a chargeable offense, highlighting the need for regulation of ghost guns and the parts and kits used to make them.

On June 3, officers responded to a residence in the city for a male reportedly making suicidal statements. The male was taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. His name will not be released as he is not charged with a crime.

Officers returned to the residence in the early morning hours of June 4 after another resident of the home reported finding gun parts among the male's belongings.

In one box, officers located gun parts, including the frame to a 9mm firearm with no serial number, parts to an upper internal slide component, a firing pin, trigger assembly kit and frame drilling rig. A second box contained a slide, guide rod kit, barrel and spring. Officers confirmed that the male did not have an LTC or FID card.

Such kits and parts can be purchased online and are often shipped to a buyer 80% built, with the buyer easily able to assemble the remainder of the firearm. The kits do not have serial numbers, making them so-called “ghost guns” that are impossible for law enforcement to trace.

The Springfield Police Department seized six ghost guns in 2020. That number jumped to 27 ghost guns in 2021. As of May 23, SPD has already recovered 11 ghost guns in 2022. 

Once assembled, a firearm needs to be registered and have a serial number stamped on it in order for it to be possessed legally by a legally authorized owner. However, state and federal laws do not consider the kits or parts themselves to be firearms. Therefore, current gun laws do not apply until the firearm is fully assembled.

In April, the Biden Administration issued a federal rule expected to go into effect in August that classifies ghost gun kits as firearms, therefore requiring kits to have serial numbers and requiring sellers to be licensed and complete background checks of buyers.

Proposed legislation regarding ghost guns is also currently before the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

“Our Firearms Investigation Unit and all of our officers work every day to take weapons off of our streets, and the proliferation of ghost guns is becoming a dangerous trend,” Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said. “Ghost guns are of specific concern because they are easy to purchase, easy to build and have few regulations. This allows people who would not otherwise be able to legally purchase a firearm to possess a fully-functioning firearm with no oversight, and potentially use that firearm to cause harm to themselves or others. The lack of a serial number also presents significant challenges when investigating crimes where ghost guns are involved as they cannot be traced back to a suspect, nor can they be traced to a possible manufacturer. Regulation of these weapons is important for the safety of our community, and I am pleased to see legislative efforts that can help to address the dangers ghost guns pose.”

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Terrific work by the brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department not only responding to a suicidal call and getting this individual the help they need but for continuing to bring awareness on the serious issues ghost guns have in our neighborhoods, state and nation.  These ghost guns present a difficult challenge for our law enforcement officials to address as the state and federal laws regulating them are lacking or outdated.  We desperately need our state and federal legislatures to pass meaningful and effective laws on ghost guns.  In addition, we need the backing from our courts to hold those responsible for using or producing ghost guns that are involved in criminal activities to be held accountable.  Only by working together with our local law enforcement agencies and having the support of our courts with strong laws on the books to hold these repeat criminal offenders accountable for possession of illegal gun(s)/ghost guns can we truly make a difference and enhance the quality of life and public safety for our residents and business community.”  

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm