News & Opinion | July 6, 2018 12:57 pm

Gangs in L.A. Load Up On Untraceable, Handmade “Ghost Guns”

The LAPD seized a small arsenal of weapons from gang members during a six-month undercover operation.

A police officer from the 77th Division gang unit displays a .38 caliber pistol after it was tossed on a roof by a gang member May 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
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During a six-month undercover operation, Los Angeles Police Department authorities seized a small arsenal of weapons from gang members. It is not unusual for the LAPD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to take high-power weapons during these types of sweeps, reports The Los Angeles Times. But this time, the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles and pistols were different — they were handmade “ghost guns” that were untraceable since they lacked traditional serial numbers. The weapons were built from parts bought over the internet.

“Criminals are making their own weapons because they cannot buy them legally … or they are paying other people to make those guns for them to get around the gun laws,” said Bill McMullan, special agent in charge of ATF’s L.A. Field Division. “This is a trend among Southern California gangs.”

Authorities say that they were seeing more gangs start making their own guns as it gets harder to acquire real ones. Investigators seized 45 firearms and eventually arrested 10 alleged gang members involved in the manufacture these “ghost guns” to criminals, reports The Los Angeles Times. Ghost guns are legal for people who are allowed to own firearms, but now, investigators are seeing them increasingly used in crime. LAPD Cmdr. Blake Chow told The Los Angeles Times that they are “ending up in the hands of some of the most violent gang members.”