Since last November, at least four suspects in the United States have used “phantom weapons” to carry out school shootings. These firearms can be bought on the internet in spare parts, then assembled by anyone at home. ABC News analyzed this new phenomenon which worries Americans.
Alex McCourt, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, Explain: “The first time we heard about these weapons, we thought that even a child could get hold of them. Unfortunately, this is no longer just a hypothesis. He specifies that there are two types of pistols grouped under this terminology. The former are plastic, can be built using a 3D printer, and usually only fire a single round; the second, those found at an increasing number of crime scenes, are received in the form of a kit. Without any serial number, these weapons go under the radar federal laws recording those that are in circulation. Worse, because of the legal vagueness, these kits are not considered weapons and cannot even be declared.
These new “do it yourself” calibers have been booming for several years. A spokesperson for Bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosiveCarolyn Gwathmey, specifies that between January 2016 and December 2020, approximately 23,206 phantom weapons were reported by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 325 homicides.
The impressive simplicity with which anyone can obtain these objects is alarming: “If you can put IKEA furniture together, you’ll have no trouble putting these weapons together,” quips Alex McCourt.
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Even in schools
In Phoenix, Rockville, or Albuquerque, the list of teenagers who have injured or killed one or more comrades thanks to these “phantom weapons” is sadly growing. Because of these incidents, nine US states, including New York and California, have initiated legislative proceedings. But for Alex McCourt, it’s federal government to take matters into your own hands: “Having a patchwork of local laws doesn’t help much. Online sales are growing, and lawmakers are constantly falling behind on technology.”
Legislation is therefore still in its infancy while the danger represented by the phenomenon is only increasing. Lawyer John McCarthy explains to ABC News that the problem is twofold: not only children or teenagers can get these pistols, but in Maryland for example, even people who have been banned by law from carrying weapons can buy them. .