Gov. Hochul, police warn about spread of ghost guns as seizures ramp up in NY

Gov. Hochul, police warn about spread of ghost guns as seizures ramp up in NY

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that the New York State Police have seized 104% more firearms this year than during the same period in 2021, a feat she attributed to the state’s “intentional focus” on disrupting gun trafficking.

“We’re proud of it,” she said at a press conference in Albany. “We’re seizing more illegal firearms. We’re making more communities safe.”

Hochul sought to draw attention to the scourge of ghost guns — essentially, homemade firearms that fall outside the longstanding regulatory framework — in particular, noting that the state has confiscated over 400 self-made guns this year.

In October, Hochul signed a suite of bills designed to curb the spread of ghost guns, also called personally manufactured firearms. Among other changes, the new legislation criminalized the possession of unfinished gun parts that could be readily converted into a functional weapon.

 

New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen, whose name is now synonymous with the landmark gun-rights ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, echoed Hochul’s concerns about the proliferation of ghost guns.

Bruen said that there has been an “exponential growth” in ghost gun recoveries over the last few years.

“This concept of personally manufactured firearms, it just didn’t exist in New York five years ago,” he said. “With the ability to take these parts and relatively easily assemble them, this became a source of guns. And it’s become a source and a huge concern for me.”

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The Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen established a constitutional right to carry concealed weapons outside the home but struck down New York's previous "proper cause" restriction on who may carry said firearms. Following the ruling, New York lawmakers revamped the process for seeking and obtaining a concealed carry permit.

Lawmakers added several new hurdles that prospective gun owners will have to clear, including a controversial provision that would allow investigators to assess applicants’ social media feeds. The new legislation also sought to rid guns from the public square, placing severe new restrictions on where gun owners can carry their weapons in public.

Democrats defended the new restrictions as necessary to preserve safety and order in the state, where the population-dense New York City saw over 60 million tourists yearly pre-pandemic.

“We’re balancing constitutional rights here,” said State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) during the floor debate for the gun safety overhaul. “The Second Amendment right is not unlimited, and when it meets the property rights of private property owners, including business owners, that’s the balance that we’re trying to strike here.”