As the United States continues to deal with a spike in mass shootings, police say they are seeing more guns on the streets across the country than ever before.
US gunsmiths produced 11.3 million firearms in 2020, nearly triple the 3.9 million produced 20 years ago, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
John DeVito, the ATF’s chief agent in New York, told CBS News that there may be 500 million guns on the streets of the country right now, and that 18 to 20 million more are added every year.
Officials say gun arrests are at their highest level in 28 years in New York City, where every morning federal, state and local police meet to review strategy and seize illegal weapons.
“We have the toughest gun laws here in the country, but the guns that are used in crime in New York City don’t come from New York City,” said John Miller, chief intelligence officer of the New York City Police Department. New York, at CBS News.
Guns come to New York via the so-called Iron Pipeline – guns from states with less restrictive laws to those with stricter laws, like New York. Law enforcement is also concerned about the “Plastic Pipeline” – plasticordered online and built at home – which is harder to stop.
During a recent raid in New York, police found a machine still cutting newparts to meet what law enforcement currently sees as insatiable demand.
“We’ve seen them in basements. We’ve seen them in closets. You really don’t need a lot of room to put these guns together,” Courtney Nilan, an NYPD detective, told CBS News at About machines.
Miller said there was a “boom in the ghost weapon order”.
“They’re stockpiling,” DeVito added.
Officials believe people are stockpiling ghost guns because manufacturers will have to put serial numbers on homemade plastic guns from August. The weapons currently do not have serial numbers, making them harder to trace if used in a crime. More and more, theare used to commit crimes.
In New York, there has been a more than 300% increase in ghost gun seizures so far this year compared to the same time last year.