Virginia lawmaker advocates for 'ghost gun' regulations

Del. Marcus Simon: 'When you buy it, you don't have to go through a background check,'
Felon Homemade Arsenal
Posted at 11:31 PM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-10 19:47:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Virginia delegate who introduced legislation in the 2021 General Assembly to regulate so-called "ghost guns" said he was pleased to see a national push to address the issue.

President Biden, in his first major proposal on gun control, announced multiple executive actions, one specifically aimed at regulating home-made guns that don't have a serial number.

"I went to a gun show in Fredericksburg a couple weeks ago, paid all cash, nobody asked me who I was or to provide any ID, walked out with this 80% unfinished firearm," Democratic Del. Marcus Simon said.

Del. Simon said it took him and a friend about 45 minutes to turn the unfinished firearm into a fully functioning gun.

He said these "easy-to-build kits" were being bought and sold in Virginia and turned into home-made firearms also known as "ghost guns" -- since there’s no serial number to trace.

"Because it's not a firearm, when you buy it, you don't have to go through a background check," Del. Simon said.

Ghost Guns
In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, is Sgt. Matthew Elseth with "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco. For a few hundred dollars, tools and some elbow grease, you can make your own rifle or handgun. It's all perfectly legal and it can be done without leaving anything behind for the government to trace. These "ghost guns" have long been popular among hobbyists or gun enthusiasts. But gun control advocates say they are increasingly popping up in crimes, used by people who are prohibited from buying a firearm and are trying to circumvent a background check. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Del. Simon called it a loophole, one the Democrat tried to address with a bill in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session. But the bill never left the Senate.

"People have been making their own stuff and using it for as long as the country has been here -- including guns," Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said.

In response to the President's Thursday executive action on gun control, specifically targeting "ghost guns," Van Cleave argued that home-made guns could be built from supplies people can get at the local home improvement store.

"Is he saying that I have to, now we have to do a background check to buy a pipe, or an end cap, or some nails?" Said Van Cleave

Beyond being difficult to enforce, Van Cleave argued regulating so-called "ghost guns" wouldn't stop crime.

"The serial number almost never solves the crime. Criminals don't tend to leave guns laying at the scene of a crime that actually belong to them," said Van Cleave.

But Mike Fox, State Legislative Lead for the Virginia Chapter of Moms Demand Action, believed these unfinished firearms made it easier for guns to get into the hands of the wrong people.

"All we want are for them to be classified as firearms, so that the people who access them, are legally allowed to access firearms," said Fox.

Many of the gun control initiatives addressed by Biden still needed to be passed by Congress.

Locally, Del. Simon said he hoped to bring the bill prohibiting firearms without serial numbers back to be passed in the Virginia 2022 session.

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