Hamilton pastor says ‘ghost guns’ a problem among teens

Crimes involving ghost guns have increased across the country, according to the Department of Justice.

A Cincinnati man was sentenced Monday to 84 months in prison for illegally possessing a fully-automatic weapon after previously being convicted of a felony. The District Attorney said the weapon was a ghost gun with no markings. Ghost guns are made using a 3D printer, often assembled from kits and sold without background checks.

“Ghost guns are basically guns with multiple parts that they get not from a manufacturer per se, so it’s hard to track a ghost gun because it’s made with multiple parts,” said Cincinnati Police Sgt. Jim Perkins.

Perkins has been working at CPD’s Gun Crime Intelligence Center for years. He said ghost guns do not have a serial number, meaning they’re untraceable.

“The multiple parts that are put together don’t specifically come from a manufacturer, so it’s hard to trace back to a manufacturer to determine any identity of who purchased the gun or where that gun’s been,” Perkins said. “We rely on physical evidence recovered at crime scenes in order to trace those ghost guns back to an individual.”

He said these types of guns are becoming more prevalent — and Sgt. Mike Hackney with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office agrees. He said more people are talking about ghost guns.

“Probably within the last six months we started hearing a little bit more people going out on their own, purchasing some of the equipment online and doing the other part though means of like 3D printing,” Hackney said.

Hackney added they have one active case involving a ghost gun. They’re working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He noted ghost guns can be easily moved throughout the community.

“It’s almost like a black market. You’re buying pieces and assembling the gun yourself, you almost become the manufacturer,” he said.

Overall, Hackney said there has been more gun activity in Butler County.

Pastor Shaquila Mathews, who serves on the Hamilton City Schools Board of Education, runs an after-school program in Hamilton to help keep teenagers off the street.

“I work with teens primarily in the city, and it’s all about empowering them to be their best and giving them new experiences that will allow them to know how great they are and discover their purpose in life,” Mathews said.

She held a gun take-back event on Saturday to make the community safer.

“We brought in a ton of ammunition, boxes of ammunition from various rifles, guns and different things. We also brought in two weapons, a shotgun as well as a pistol,” she said.

She noted the pistol had the serial number shaved off. When it comes to ghost guns, Mathews said teenagers know all about the 3D printed gun.

“You know this stuff is posted on YouTube, It’s posted on TikTok, so there’s videos so they know, those who are pushing this agenda, they know how to get the message out to our young people, so you do hear and see kids talk about the fascinations of 3D printing, you do hear about it, I’ve had my kids talk about it,” she said.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement: “There is not a law in Ohio that addresses the issue of ‘ghost guns.’ That issue is currently, and properly, being addressed by our federal law enforcement partners. This office, however, will prosecute all gun violence aggressively. If you shoot someone — whether it’s with a ghost gun or not — we will put you in prison.”

About the Author