Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Chief Thomas Y. Trawick
on August 4, 2023

As a public resource presented by Reimagined Campus Security, LLC in partnership with Gaggle “Fridays with Chief Trawick” shares insight, information, and awareness to guide schools regarding safety and preparedness. Chief Thomas Y. Trawick, Jr. (Ret.) is the former Chief of Safety and Security for Clayton County Public Schools where he recently retired. This week’s topic is ghost guns and the obsession with them across the United States.

Regardless of where you reside in America, whether you consider your community urban, rural, or suburban, we are experiencing a proliferation of guns. It is increasingly difficult to escape exposure to guns and the devastating violent crimes associated with them. 

Further exacerbation to an already acute situation is the inclusion of untraceable and unregistered ghost guns. Ghost guns are homemade firearms (guns) that are not registered and therefore untraceable because they do not have serial numbers. Individuals can purchase the parts to assemble these guns online by purchasing an unserialized gun kit without a license or background check. If an individual seeks greater concealment of their enterprise, they can even purchase a 3D printer and make most of the parts for ghost guns themselves at home. 

Production, assembly, and instructions are also available online which provides people with the caliber ammunition (bullet and/or projectile) required for the gun being made. 

Making or building a gun in your home is lawful, but it wasn’t an issue until recently. Before what I consider to be “the ghost gun obsession,” most homemade guns were made by licensed gunsmiths who were skilled and possessed specific gun-making equipment. Today it’s easy for anyone to make or build an untraceable gun that significantly compromises Americans. 

The national data on ghost guns is limited, however, there have been several incidents linked to ghost guns throughout the country. In 2019, a 16-year-old used a ghost gun to shoot five students before shooting himself at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.

In 2021, ghost guns were seized in alarming numbers across the US, including:

•  1,949 in Los Angeles, CA 

  571 in Philadelphia, PA

•  345 in Baltimore, MD

•  190 in San Francisco, CA

In 2021, about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations and reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). According to the White House Biden Administration, this figure marked a significant increase from 2016. I am confident those numbers are considerably higher due to the insufficient tracking and tracing of ghost guns.

We must exercise due caution and be aware of our surroundings. If you receive information about an individual making or building ghost guns, discreetly notify law enforcement and apprise them of the situation. 

I believe by working together and sharing information, we can make our communities safer. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility! 


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