There’s been a recent push, both in New York and federally, to stop the spread of so-called ghost guns. A ghost gun is essentially a “do it yourself” firearm: users buy individual gun parts with no serial number and assemble them at home. The fear behind ghost guns is they are essentially untraceable when used to commit a crime.

Now a recently expanded gun buyback program designed to remove ghost guns from New York has backfired. A West Virginia man traveled all the way to Upstate to exploit a loophole that made him tens of thousands.

Get The Money And Go Ghost

NYC Mayor Eric Adams And NY Attorney General Letitia James Make Announcement Combating Gun Violence In New York
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In April, the federal government changed the definition of a firearm to include unfinished parts, which can be made via publicly-available 3D printers. This includes auto sears, which can be installed and used to make firearms fully automatic.

At New York gun buybacks, auto-sears are traded for $350 apiece. Any un-serialized piece gets a $100 “ghost gun” bonus. The West Virginia man printed 60 auto-sears on his 3D printer at home and set off for Utica. Under an assumed name, he exchanged his self-made auto-sears for $21,000 worth of gift cards.

For Money or Message?

Science Museum Explores The Future Of 3D printing
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In an interview with the Associated Press, the man said he didn’t just do it for the money, he did it to prove a point: that gun buybacks are now flawed with the widespread availability of 3D printers.

“The people running this event are horribly uneducated about guns, gun crime, and the laws surrounding the regulation of guns.” - WV Auto-Sear Maker

The message was received by the state – New York Attorney General Letitia James has already changed the gun buyback’s “no questions asked” policy. Now law enforcement personnel have new guidelines for using expanded discretion in cases like this.

“It’s shameful that this individual exploited a program that has successfully taken thousands of guns off the streets to protect our communities from gun violence.” - NYAG's Office

The Attorney General’s office says more than 3,500 guns have been recovered since the first buyback was instituted in 2013. They do not plan to scrap the program based on the West Virginia man’s actions.

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