Ghost Guns: The Growing Threat of Untraceable Firearms

As the accessibility and affordability of technology used to create “ghost guns” continues to increase, Canadian law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), are facing a growing challenge. Ghost guns are firearms assembled from individual parts or produced using 3D printers, with no serial numbers or identifiable markings. These untraceable weapons have been increasingly associated with criminal activity in both Canada and the United States.

The RCMP, however, does not keep records on the prevalence of ghost guns or the number of crimes involving these firearms. While charges have been laid in cases where 3D guns were seized, the lack of comprehensive data makes it difficult to determine the true extent of the issue. Without accurate statistics, the debate surrounding gun control becomes fueled by conjecture rather than concrete facts.

Blake Brown, a history professor at Saint Mary’s University, emphasizes the need for national and regional statistics to track the seizure of 3D-printed weapons and identify high-risk areas. The challenge lies in the fact that ghost guns can change hands multiple times, making it incredibly difficult to trace their origin. Brown suggests that imposing stiffer criminal penalties on ghost gun manufacturers and distributors could act as a deterrent.

Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the continent have been issuing warnings about the dangers posed by ghost guns. In Canada, a national anti-gun unit, including officers from the RCMP, recently made arrests and seized a significant number of weapons in multiple provinces. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Justice Department reported a tenfold increase in the seizure of ghost guns at crime scenes within the past five years.

The unregulated nature of 3D-printed firearms presents a significant challenge to existing firearm regulations, particularly as they lack serial numbers. With readily available 3D printers and instructions found online, the creation of homemade firearms has become relatively straightforward. However, possession of a printed firearm without the necessary license and registration is illegal and can lead to seizure and criminal charges.

As A.J. Somerset, author of “Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun,” warns, the increasing accessibility of ghost guns raises concerns about their use in various criminal activities, including robberies and murder. Their ease of production and disposable nature make them attractive choices for criminals looking to carry out specific crimes without leaving a trace.

The threat posed by ghost guns demands a comprehensive approach to monitoring, regulation, and enforcement. By tracking seizures and collecting accurate data, law enforcement agencies can gain a better understanding of this emerging issue and work towards developing targeted strategies to address the challenges presented by untraceable firearms.


What are ghost guns?

Ghost guns are untraceable firearms that are typically assembled from individual parts or created using 3D printers. These guns lack any identifying markings or serial numbers, making them difficult to track.

Why is there a lack of data on ghost guns?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other law enforcement agencies do not keep records on ghost guns and their involvement in criminal activities. While charges have been laid in cases involving seized 3D guns, there is no comprehensive database on their prevalence.

Are ghost guns a significant concern?

Yes, the increasing availability and ease of producing ghost guns have raised concerns among law enforcement agencies. These untraceable firearms have been associated with various criminal activities, including robberies and murders.

What can be done to address the issue of ghost guns?

Experts suggest implementing stricter criminal penalties for ghost gun manufacturers and distributors. Additionally, collecting accurate data on seizures and working towards regulations that address the unregulated nature of 3D-printed firearms can help tackle this issue effectively.