Ghost Stats

I need a little help. I’m attempting to put together data on criminal firearms use. I need data on the criminal use of unlicensed, individually manufactured firearms: i.e.- zip guns, firearms home-built from 80% receivers, 3D-printed firearms, and the like. This would exclude licensed manufacture of firearms whose serial numbers were obliterated.

I’ve spent a couple of days searching for reports, papers, news stories… pretty much anything. I can find no collated data on such use. My usual search-fu has failed me.

I do find news opinion propaganda pieces in which some police officer or other official makes a blanket — yet somehow undocumented — claim that such weapons are turning up at crime scenes more and more often. I want data on that.

What I have found is three reports of firearm, home-built from 80% receivers, used in killings in the past five years (Zawahri, 2013; Bertics, 2015; Neal, 2017). I expected more. (Unsurprisingly, all were in gun-controlled California).

I also found two reports of people making and selling such unserialized firearms… to undercover agents. Again, both cases in California; go figure.

I have not found a single report of a 3D-printed firearm — plastic or metallic — being used in crime. There were four “firearms” reportedly found by TSA in carry-on baggage; one an object that even the TSA referred to only as a “replica,” and three AR lowers, of which at least one resulted in no charges, but was voluntarily abandoned, leading me to suspect it was still an 80%. The report on the other two did not mention charges one way or the other; none of the lowers were pictured.

The lack of 3D-printed firearm in crime doesn’t surprise me, but I expected to see more 80%-based gear, and even the occasional zip gun.

If anyone can point me to collected data on criminal use (mostly use in crime beyond the offense of making/selling, but that, too), I would greatly appreciate it.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to go the FOIA route with the ATF, and that’s going to take money I don’t have (see PayPal link below, if you’d like to help that way). And likely a lot of time. Surely, someone has researched this before.


Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar. He could use the money, what with truck repairs and recurring bills. Click here to donate via PayPal.

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