Press Releases

Rose’s Bill to Help Law Enforcement Address Threat of Untraceable ‘Ghost Guns’ Passes Committee

During Police Week, NYPD and International Assoc. of Chiefs of Police support Congressman’s bill

Washington, May 15, 2019

Watch Rose’s full remarks from today’s Committee hearing HERE.

As New York City and State work to address the threat of unregistered and untraceable “ghost guns,” the House Committee on Homeland Security today passed Congressman Max Rose’s legislation to crack down on ghost guns by providing local law enforcement with annual updates on the threat posed by the availability of these weapons. Rose’s legislation, The Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists’ Use of Ghost Guns Act, is supported by the New York Police Department and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“These weapons pose a security risk on the front end, as prohibited buyers can purchase ghost guns with just a few clicks online,” said Rose, an Army combat veteran and member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, “They also pose a security risk on the back end, complicating law enforcement’s ability to investigate attacks. People on terror watch lists can purchase these guns, use them to commit crimes, and evade law enforcement. As the Committee charged with helping to prevent terrorism, it falls to us to take this emerging terrorism threat very seriously. … I’m proud that this bill is being considered during Police Week because it will help the fine women and men of law enforcement stay safe and keep us safe.”

Rose’s legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis to develop and disseminate an annual terrorism threat assessment regarding the availability of ghost guns with state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials.

“Information is one of the NYPD’s most valuable tools in protecting this city against acts of terrorism,” said John J. Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Intelligence & Counterterrorism on Rose’s legislation. “This legislation represents a first step in assessing the threat level and potential devastating impact of untraceable firearms, commonly known as ‘Ghost Guns.’”

Ghost guns—unregistered, untraceable weapons sold and assembled without a serial number—present a homeland security challenge. These weapons are sold or made in forms that evade existing federal restrictions on the sale and purchase of firearms, leaving the door open for terrorists and other bad actors to get their hands on guns—ranging from small pistols to AR-15s—and elude detection when law enforcement officials attempt to trace the weapon.

Ghost guns not only pose a challenge on the front end, enabling prohibited buyers to purchase deadly weapons with just a few clicks online, but also on the back end, hamstringing law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes committed with untraceable weapons. The wide availability of ghost guns and the emergence of functional 3D-printed guns are a homeland security threat as terrorists and other bad actors may seek to exploit the availability of these weapons for dangerous ends.

Rose honored local law enforcement for National Police Week saying, “It is my honor to welcome them to Washington this week to recognize their service, and I will always have their back when it comes to providing the resources and support they need to do their jobs.”

Preventing gun violence has been a top priority of Rose, who held a roundtable with Fort Hamilton High School students last week on the issue. Earlier this year, Rose voted to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, a long-overdue, commonsense gun violence prevention measure which will save lives. Keeping his pledge to fight for gun safety reforms, Rose is also supporting legislation to ban the sale, manufacture, or possession of new military-style assault weapons to civilians.

Full text of Rose’s remarks at today’s Committee on Homeland Security hearing:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In April, the Department of Homeland Security publicly released an intelligence assessment that concluded that unregistered, untraceable “ghost guns”— such as 3D-printed firearms—“pose a challenge to law enforcement, particularly when used by violent extremists or criminal actors to avoid firearms regulations and security measures.”

Ghost guns can range from small pistols to AR-15s.

They are sold across the country and online without regulation, without manufacturer records, and without sales records.

The emergence of 3D-printing technology as a source for untraceable, plastic ghost guns is particularly concerning as 3D-printed weapons may evade metal detectors.

These weapons pose a security risk on the front end, as prohibited buyers can purchase ghost guns with just a few clicks online.

They also pose a security risk on the back end, complicating law enforcement’s ability to investigate attacks.

People on terror watch lists can purchase these guns, use them to commit crimes, and evade law enforcement.

As the Committee charged with helping to prevent terrorism, it falls to us to take this emerging terrorism threat very seriously.

The April 22nd DHS Intelligence Assessment warned that some lone actors and small groups will consider embracing new technology, including—specifically—ghost guns, to circumvent security measures.

Just last week, during this Committee’s hearing on domestic terrorism, I asked the witnesses from FBI and DHS about the threat of ghost guns and both witnesses testified that the availability of ghost guns was concerning.

There have been mass attacks against Americans with ghost guns.

In 2013, a 23-year-old man went on a killing spree with ghost guns on the campus of Santa Monica College.

In November 2017, a man in Northern California assembled two AR-15-type semi-automatic rifles using parts he bought online, and went on a murderous rampage, killing five people and injuring 12, including six children.

In February, a Maryland man, who had amassed an arsenal of ghost guns, was arrested while planning a domestic terrorist attacks against several Democratic politicians.

Law enforcement needs to have the information they need to understand the threat.

To that end, my bill would require DHS to develop and disseminate an annual terrorism threat assessment regarding the availability of ghost guns.

DHS produced an assessment focused on ghost guns this past January but, given advancements in 3D-printing technology and Internet distribution, there need to be annual assessments.

I’m proud that this bill is being considered during Police Week because it will help the fine women and men of law enforcement stay safe and keep us safe.

To underscore the importance of this bill, look no further than New York Police Department.

John J. Miller, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism—who testified before my subcommittee last week—had this to say about my bill:

“Information is one of the NYPD’s most valuable tools in protecting this city against acts of terrorism. This legislation represents a first step in assessing the threat level and potential devastating impact of untraceable firearms, commonly known as ‘Ghost Guns.’”

I would also like to highlight that the International Association of Chiefs of Police is supporting my bill.

This is a simple bill. Our intelligence community has already identified that ghost guns pose a threat to Americans.

I hope my colleagues will support this bill.

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