Shapiro pointed to the Pillus case as evidence that better federal regulation is urgently needed, and said the number of ghost weapons involved in crimes has skyrocketed in his state. The Philadelphia Police Department recovered 389 in the first eight months of 2021, up from just 95 in all of 2019.
National data on ghost weapons are incomplete, at best. The ATF estimates that the police recovered 10,000 privately made firearms in 2019. In some cities, the numbers are increasing rapidly. In New York City, the number seized by police increased from 48 in 2019 to around 200 from the beginning of this year through mid-November.
In response, the Biden administration recently proposed a federal rule that would regulate the sale of homemade gun kits like all other firearms, requiring buyers to pass background checks and forcing manufacturers to add serial numbers to parts. But the rule is still pending.
Meanwhile, some states and cities, including New Jersey and Los Angeles, have passed their own laws that either ban ghost guns or require buyers to register them once they are built.
But the laws don’t focus on how people learn to make guns, leaving online platforms to control themselves.
Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis, said videos showing how to build weapons make it easier to produce and should be a wake-up call for YouTube and other platforms to do better. I work monitoring the content.
“What YouTube and others need to consider is what complicity and liability they face if they continue to allow that information to be released, given the purposes for which it is posted,” Wintemute said.
Gun Supporters: Policy Too Restrictive
But supporters of the Second Amendment say YouTube is already aggressively enforcing its rules, charging that it has gone too far in restricting firearm content. Some former YouTube users have moved to more specialized alternative sites, such as Odysee or GunStreamer.
“YouTube restrictions prevent gun owners, especially the more than 11 million first-time gun buyers in the past two years, from accessing information that will help teach them about safe and responsible gun ownership and storage. of fire, “said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs. affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents the firearms industry.
Oliva said that the foundation “supports the use of videos that demonstrate the legal and safe use of firearms, including those firearms that are built in the home by those who are within their legal right to possess firearms.”
“P80 Ralph,” who declined to give his full name, runs a YouTube channel dedicated to making untraceable weapons at home. In a video interview set up via the email account attached to his YouTube channel, Ralph said his curiosity was piqued when a co-worker showed him a photo of an AR-style rifle he had built. He wondered, “How the hell do you build a weapon?”