Federal rules will help authorities trace ‘ghost guns,’ stop them from getting into wrong hands

CHARLOTTE — Soon, new action to fight the epidemic of gun violence across the country will kick in.

In April, the Biden Administration announced new rules for “ghost guns” -- firearms made through kits or 3D printers.

The ATF told Channel 9′s Allison Latos that in the Carolinas, the number of ghost guns found by police jumped 700% from 2020 to 2021 alone. Those are firearms found on the streets and even in our schools.

Police said last month, a student brought a loaded gun to Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology -- a gun he admitted he had ordered and built.

The new federal regulations will make tracing ghost guns easier, and will make the punishment stiff when they end up in the wrong hands.

Ghost guns are practically invisible to law enforcement because they’re missing critical information -- serial numbers.

Law enforcement officers use those special markings to determine where a firearm was purchased.

ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Mein said more ghost guns are being used in violence nationwide.

“In the last year alone, 700 homicides in the U.S. have been linked to privately manufactured firearms,” Mein said.

Dena King is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

“Criminals looking to do harm in an untraceable way -- these ghost guns have been a landmine for them,” King said.

She’s also a Charlotte native who is concerned about the skyrocketing number of shootings and homicides.

“It is the highest priority of my office to attack the epidemic of gun violence on all fronts,” King said.

She said her office is prosecuting “straw purchases,” which is when someone buys guns for a known criminal. That includes cases like that of Kourtney Shivers, who prosecutors say bought a gun for her boyfriend -- convicted felon Travis Fair -- in Asheville.

Prosecutors are also going after dealers who sell guns to someone they shouldn’t. And soon, King’s office will have another tool.

The Biden Administration announced those “buy, build, shoot” kits qualify as firearms. That means they, too, must have serial numbers. Plus, commercial sellers of the kits must become federally licensed and perform background checks before a sale.

“What it does is provide more accountability so they don’t get into the wrong hands,” King said.

Accountability aimed at preventing this crisis from growing or claiming any more lives in our community.

King made it very clear that the new rules will not stop law-abiding gun owners from buying and building ghost guns. In those cases, buyers will just face the same checks they do for regular firearms.

The rules go into effect on Aug. 24.

(WATCH BELOW: CMPD confiscates over 400 guns in May, setting highest record in 7 years)