MASSAPEQUA, NY (PIX11) — When a 61-year-old dentist was taken out of his home office barefoot–and wearing pajamas–on Feb. 17, police said they got a surprise when they searched Dr. Paul Carey’s basement.
“There were 30 guns found in his house,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at the time. “Eighteen of those guns are ghost guns.”
Dr. Carey was accused of using online gun kits to build the weapons, which didn’t have serial numbers. They’re called “ghost guns” because they’re untraceable. Carey’s case illustrated that the kits are being bought by professionals and gang members alike, perhaps for different reasons.
“They’re not just your typical criminals with guns,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly told PIX11 News about some of the arrests. “It’s the dentist; six days later, we had a New York City fireman who had six ghost guns.”
“I don’t know if people suddenly feel unsafe,” Donnelly added, “and they feel the need to arm themselves.”
But there’s something else at play for many people buying the guns online. Many could likely not pass traditional background checks at a gun dealer’s shop.
One of the more popular kits, called Polymer 80, delivers 80 percent of a gun assembled for $89.
President Joe Biden on Monday announced new rules covering the sale of gun parts online. Dealers will now have to be licensed and do background checks on parts buyers. And the significant gun parts will have to be stamped with serial numbers.
The National Rifle Association called the new rules extreme, but President Biden had a response for the NRA.
“Is it extreme to protect our police officers?” the president asked the crowd at a White House ceremony. “Extreme to protect our children?”
He announced the new rules three days after 16-year-old Angellyh Yambo of the Bronx was shot to death with a ghost gun as she walked home from school Friday afternoon. Another teen was killed by a ghost gun in January in New Rochelle.
Glen Klein, a retired NYPD Emergency Services cop, runs Front Line Training Center in Bohemia, Long Island, which is located in Suffolk County. He said some 30,000 people in Suffolk County have legally licensed handguns. Klein believes many of the buyers looking online would not pass background checks.
And gun kits are not the only “ghost guns” being used for assembly.
“3-D printers are making some pretty sophisticated and nasty guns,” Klein told PIX11 News. “Assault-type weapons are being made also.”
The president made his announcement about gun kits after statistics revealed 20,000 ghost gun seizures were reported to the federal ATF bureau in 2021, a tenfold increase from 2016.