NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We report all too often on gun violence spiraling out of control in our city, and one of the fastest growing gun safety issues may also be the most chilling: cheap, easy to get and completely untraceable firearms.
They’re called ghost guns.READ MORE: NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter Stepping Down
Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a package of bills to crack down on the firearms.
CBS2’s Maurice DuBois got exclusive access to the NYPD’s battle against these lethal weapons.
He went to the forensic investigations division in Queens with Deputy Chief Emanuel Katranakis, the commanding officer there. He fired off several rounds from a ghost gun.
“What did that feel like to you?” DuBois asked.
“Deadly weapon. No difference. Same effect. Same output, except unregulated,” Katranakis said.
DuBois handled two unloaded guns, including one ghost gun.
“Basically the same thing,” DuBois said.
“Same effect,” Katranakis said.
There’s no serial number on the ghost gun, making it impossible to know where it was sold, who was the owner, was it ever used in a crime.
And, more concerning, it takes just a few minutes online to order parts to assemble.
“Literally anybody can do this, a kid, a felon, someone who’s not supposed to be doing it, anybody?” DuBois asked.
“Any person that has the finances … to go online purchase the parts,” Katranakis said.
Katranakis showed DuBois what they may be buying.
“The lower part is as simple as putting this jig together and then carrying out a few steps of some drilling … There are several holes and there are instructions that are available online,” he explained.
In many cases, we’re told, an individual can put together a ghost gun in just a few hours.READ MORE: Explosion Rocks Home, Sparks Fire Overnight In Cypress Hills; 6 People Hurt
The NYPD readily acknowledges ghost guns are a growing problem.
In 2019, 48 ghost guns were recovered in New York City. Last year, 150. This year, more than 200 have been confiscated so far.
DuBois spoke with Inspector Courtney Nilan, who heads up a team within the intelligence bureau and is seeing some encouraging results. The very morning they spoke, a cache of ghost guns was recovered from a Queens location.
“What was the situation?” DuBois asked.
“We recovered six fully functional ghost gun handgun firearms, and in addition to that, we recovered seven lower receivers of the ghost gun and a plethora of parts, which could be used to build additional guns,” Nilan said.
Just four days later, Nilan was with Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz to show off another high profile bust.
RELATED STORY: Queens DA, NYPD Announce Massive Ghost Guns Bust
About a third of the ghost guns seized this year have come from Queens. Other recent New York seizures include a doorman selling the untraceable weapons and an MTA employee also caught with the illegal firearms.
While the proliferation of these guns on the street is a major concern, ghost guns aren’t new. Kastranakis took DuBois into the gun library for some early iterations of these illegal weapons.
“This was a flashlight firearm. Somebody converted a flashlight into an actual gun … This is going back to decades ago,” he said.
Jackie Rowe-Adams, the founder of the support group Harlem Mothers Save, lost two sons to gun violence and says she’s become increasingly afraid of how ghost guns are flooding the streets
“They’re selling ghost guns. Ghost guns are out there like this is Black Friday,” she said.
But Rowe-Adams says we can take measures to try and stop that, especially when it comes to young people.
“Pay attention to your kids. Know what your kids are doing on those computers and internet and look at their phones and stuff,” she said.
To those selling the parts online, Kastranakis says, “I say they need to look in the mirror and say, where do your ethical values lie? … They’re snubbing their nose at legislators. They’re snubbing their nose at the government saying, we can work around this.”
CBS2 reached out to a number of these ghost gun part dealers, and non got back to us.MORE NEWS: NYPD: Officer Fires On Suspect Fleeing Traffic Stop In Brooklyn
We also reached out to the NRA. They responded with a statement that says in part, “People have made their own firearms since before the country was founded and there is no valid reason why any law-abiding person should be barred from possessing them.”