Tracing the Untraceable: Data and Policy Options for Tracking Homemade Guns
Firearm violence is a massive public health problem. Many violence reduction policies rely on firearm background checks and the ability to trace guns used in violence back to their original source. An increasingly popular type of gun, a homemade, untraceable gun, is subverting these policies. Often called “ghost guns,” these guns can be constructed at home using parts or kits that can be purchased without a background check. Once completed, these guns function just like standard guns, but they cannot be traced if recovered by law enforcement. Data is limited, but the purchase, manufacture, and use of ghost guns seems to be increasing. In this session, we will discuss untraceable guns, the need for reliable data, and state and federal policy options.
Alex McCourt is an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is the Director of Legal Research for the Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy and is core faculty in the Center for Law and the Public’s Health and the Center for Injury Research and Policy. Trained as a public health lawyer, he combines legal research with empirical methods to study instances in which law plays a role in shaping the public’s health. He received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and his JD/MPH from the University of Arizona.