La. lawmaker pushes bill targeting untraceable ‘ghost guns’

Justice Department says untraceable guns are a growing problem
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 8:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The recent deadly carjacking of a tourist at a Hammond hotel highlights the growing access to untraceable guns, often called “ghost guns”.

Tangipahoa Parish authorities say such a weapon was used to kill 62-year-old Paul Holt in the Red Roof Plus Hotel parking lot on Saturday (May 6).

RELATED STORY: Hammond teen booked with murder of Arkansas tourist during alleged carjacking

Jimmy Travis is Chief of Operations with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“The weapon he had is what we refer to as a ghost gun. These are guns that you buy here or there off the internet, pieces and parts that you put together, nothing has a serial number,” said Travis.

He said the type of weapon allegedly used in the fatal shooting of Holt is of increasing concern. “They’re not traceable to any type of manufacturer or anything like that,” said Holt.

Such weapons can be bought without a background check online.

“This gun also had what we call a Glock switch,” said Travis. “You can take a 30-round magazine and put in that weapon, flip the switch on and probably within 2.5 seconds you’ve just fired 30 shots.”

At the state capitol, Rep. Larry Selder, D-Baton Rouge has a bill awaiting consideration that targets such weapons.

“Recently, in Baton Rouge, we’ve had over 80-plus shootings that involve the Glock switch,” said Selders. “The intent of the bill is to just get them off the street.”

Language in his bill would prohibit manufacturing, transferring or possessing machine guns in Louisiana with some exceptions.

“It’s not going to affect the gun enthusiasts; you know this is going to get the illegal machine guns off the street. If you legally own a machine gun or if you’re registered to a machine gun like the feds require you to do, then you’ll be fine,” said Selders.

He also commented on the fatal carjacking.

“That’s very unfortunate and that’s even more reason for us to push these issues and getting these guns off the streets,” said Selders.

The U.S. Justice Department says since 2016, there has been more than a ten-fold increase in the annual number of “ghost guns” recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

The New Orleans ATF Office issued a statement on the Hammond case:

“ATF is investigating the criminal possession and criminal misuse of a privately made firearm in this tragic case.

As this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we are not in a position to comment further at this time.

This case has been referred to the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana for federal prosecution.”

Further, ATF says it identifies firearms made by non-licensed individuals as “privately made firearms and not “ghost guns”.

ATF agrees that such weapons make it difficult to trace them when they are recovered as part of criminal investigations.

The group, Everytown for Gun Safety says only 11 states regulate “ghost guns” and Louisiana is not one of them.

Selders says his bill is intended to impact “ghost guns” as well.

“Oh absolutely, it’s going to affect everybody, you know, these folks are digitally 3-D printing these mechanisms that they put on the back of a handgun and making it a machine gun,” Selders said.


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Last year, the Biden administration implemented a new rule which among other things bans the business of manufacturing what it calls “Buy Build Shoot” kits that allow someone to assemble a firearm at home.

FOX 8 asked Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana if Congress needs to take more action to curb access to “ghost guns.”

“I am all about how do we lower crime and if there’s something that criminals are doing to illegally obtain weapons which the Alvade response bill, the Safer Communities Act went after I’m willing to strengthen that. I want to protect Second Amendment rights for everybody but criminals and those who shouldn’t have weapons,” said Cassidy.

The Justice Department says if someone builds a firearm at home and then pawns it or sells it to a gun shop, those businesses are required to put a serial number on it before reselling that weapon.

But there is pushback. The group, Gun Owners of America calls the rule the Biden administration put into place unconstitutional and vowed to fight it.

It wrote in a press release, “The anti-gun left may try to demonize these firearms by referring to them as “ghost guns.” But the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of honest gun owners today are making their own legal guns — and virtually none of these guns will be used in any crime.”

Selders says he respects gun rights but says Louisiana needs laws to address the growing use of certain weapons.

“I’m not anti-gun. I have a concealed weapons permit myself but you want responsible citizens to have these guns and you don’t need a machine gun,” said Selders.

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