How to Regulate Ghost Guns: A Loaded Question

In November 2021, Maui Police Department officers raided a home in Wailuku and seized several “ghost guns.” In April of this year, a search of a Kihei residence turned up crystal meth, heroin and fentanyl, along with ghost gun parts. In July, MPD executed a bust in Wailuku and confiscated drugs, $1.1 million in cash, cock-fighting blades and—you guessed it—a ghost gun rifle, a semi-automatic 9mm ghost gun and a fully automatic AR-15 ghost gun. 

All of which begs the question: What, exactly, are ghost guns? As the name implies, they’re largely untraceable weapons without serial numbers that can be assembled from kits available online or created using 3D printers. (One website that sells ghost gun kits features a countdown clock ticking off the seconds “until the ATF’s ghost gun rule takes effect.”) Clearly they’re becoming popular among Maui’s criminal element. And law enforcement is aiming to fight back.

Hawaii Attorney General Holly T. Shikada has joined a national coalition calling for a federal law regulating ghost guns. The law wouldn’t ban them outright, but it would require anyone who buys a kit to register and pass a background check. With the national debate over firearms hopelessly gridlocked, perhaps this is something a majority can get behind.

Jacob Shafer