Number of "ghost guns" recovered by authorities doubled between 2020 and 2021

The ATF discloses that in 2021, law enforcement agencies found and submitted more than 19,000 privately made firearms.

The number of what are known as "ghost guns," or privately made firearms, doubled between 2020 and 2021. A report published this week by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assures that the number of privately made firearms (PMFs) has doubled since 2020, when they recovered around 8,500. This figure is well below the more than 19,000 they found in 2021.

The data, moreover, indicates a concerning trend regarding PMFs. As the report notes, the 19,273 guns recovered by the ATF represent a 1,083% increase over those found in 2017, when the figure was just over 1,000.

This increase, reports Axios, indicates increased criminal use of ghost guns, known as such because they are made from parts that were purchased individually. For this reason, they have no serial number and are extremely difficult for authorities to trace. A report from The Hill indicates that domestic law enforcement agencies are now becoming more aware of the service the ATF provides for tracing these weapons.

Most crime guns used within three years of purchase

The report also revealed that 54% of all guns found at crime scenes in 2021 were acquired within three years of the crime being committed, compared to 42% in 2019. This worries ATF officials, who indicated that there was also a 64% increase between 2019 and 2021 of guns used to commit crimes that had been purchased less than 12 months prior to use.

In the opinion of ATF Director Steve Dettelbach, this is a very relevant report. He mentioned in the foreword that it is important to know details about the weapons circulating in the country and their risks. "Information is power," Dettelbach said:

It is my sincere hope that the publication of this unprecedented collection of data will help others to study firearms violence and will further ATF's mission of protecting American communities from violent crime. ATF intends that this Volume, and the data in it, will spur further study, discussion, and analysis by law enforcement, policy makers, prosecutors, advocates, academics, the media -- but most importantly, by the American people.