BREINIGSVILLE, Pa. (PIX11) — The owner of Eagle Arms in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, was a bit tired of dealing with gun control debates when we visited his store recently.
“It’s not guns. It’s society,” Rick Koehler said when PIX11 News arrived to discuss new rules about gun kits. “Decayed.”
Koehler has interacted with a lot of New Yorkers in recent years, especially since the crime rate in the city is soaring. “All the New York people that moved here, they brought the problems with them,” he said.
Koehler’s associate, Tom Bronson, added, “We have a proliferation of firearms [in Pennsylvania] but not nearly the level of crime that New York City does.”
That being said, Koehler did acknowledge he doesn’t sell the 80 percent “receiver kits” — known as ghost guns — that are cropping up more and more at crime scenes in New York and around the nation. “I don’t sell them, and I never did,” Koehler said.
Koehler’s brother used to promote the gun shows where the kits are still sold — legally — but left that role when the Pennsylvania Attorney General started putting the squeeze on dealers.
Bronson, the employee at Eagle Arms who made it clear he knows his Constitutional rights, said it will be very hard for Pennsylvania to stop the sale of gun kits, especially at shows. “If they had the ability to, they would have stopped it,” Bronson noted. “They don’t legally have the ability. The Pennsylvania Constitution prevents that.”
On April 11, President Joe Biden announced he was tweaking the federal rules on gun kits, requiring manufacturers to put “serial numbers” on the parts that are sold. Biden also said the companies would have to be properly licensed to sell parts.
One of Koehler’s other employees, a woman who didn’t want to be named, showed PIX11 News the forms from the Pennsylvania State Police that were sent out in early 2020 to many gun shops. One form was called “Application for Purchase” (Partially-Manufactured Frame or Receiver for a Pistol or Rifle). The forms did not go over well with customers, the dealer noted.
“They’re looking for the anonymity of an unregistered weapon,” the woman said.
The dealer said some customers were upset they could no longer buy gun kits at the store because the owners preferred to sell fully-built weapons. When asked why the customers were disgruntled, she replied, because “it’s their right to own a gun, whether they want to register them or not.”
Bronson blamed poor legislation in New York for the crime problems the city has been having. “It’s not going to get better. New York is going to get a lot worse in the next few years,” Bronson said.
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who was confronted with several high-profile shootings in the first weeks of his tenure, has created a special division in his office to deal purely with gun violence. “There’s a very small percentage of people that are driving a large percentage of the crimes,” Bragg said.
Bragg said Manhattan Island does not quite have the same level of “ghost gun” shootings as other boroughs, but his office is looking for troubling trends.
In February, a member of the extremist group “Boogaloo Boys” was sentenced to four years in prison, after pleading guilty to building ghost guns inside a lower East Side Airbnb.
In another case, Bragg’s office prosecuted QAnon conspiracy theorist Samuel Fisher for participating in the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. Fisher received up to 3.5 years in prison for illegally possessing numerous, loaded firearms in an Upper East Side apartment, including a “ghost gun” pistol and an AR-15 style assault rifle.