HARRISBURG, Pa. — Note: The video is from December 2019.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Monday that Eagle Arms Productions, the largest gun show promoter in the state, has halted the sale of "ghost guns" at its shows.
Eagle Arms is the first gun show promoter in the nation to stop the sale of unserialized 80% receiver kits, Shapiro said. The promoter's decision to stop the sale of "ghost guns" comes after the number of such weapons recovered in Philadelphia rose 152% from 2019-20.
More than 10,000 ghost guns were recovered nationally in 2019 alone, Shapiro said in his announcement. He was joined by state Rep. Amen Brown and state Sens. Vincent Hughes and Tony Williams.
Shapiro's Gun Violence Task Force conducted two surveillance operations at Eagle Arms shows, Shaprio said.
“Ghost guns are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for criminals and fueling the gun violence epidemic," Shapiro said in his announcement. "These DIY gun kits should be subject to the same background checks and qualifications as fully functioning firearms to prevent criminals who are not legally able to purchase or possess guns from getting their hands on these deadly, untraceable weapons.
"We are calling on all gun show promoters to contact my office and follow suit to help keep our neighborhoods safe until criminals can’t buy these weapons."
The surveillance operations, conducted in partnership with local and federal law enforcement, tracked the purchasing of Polymer 80% gun kits at the Morgantown Gun Show, hosted by Eagle Arms Productions, to the recovery of 10 fully functional firearms or partially assembled kits in Philadelphia announced just eight days ago.
Ghost guns typically start as “80% receivers” that are often sold in kits without background checks, Shapiro said. They can be easily and quickly put together, lack serial numbers so they cannot be traced, and, once fully assembled, can operate as fully functioning firearms.
“It is my job to do what I can to fight for and protect my community," said Brown. "It is beyond heartbreaking to see how many lives are being lost to senseless gun violence – the impact on my community is grave.
“So, I pulled the needed parties to the table to figure out what can be done now that does not require legislation or policy change. And, this agreement is the outcome of bringing people together and working as a collective unit.”
From Jan. to April 2021, Eagle Arms Productions (Eagle Arms) had 15 scheduled gun shows and made up 32% of total gun shows for that time period, Shapiro said.
An OAG investigation resulting from the surveillance operations at an Eagle Arms gun show in Morgantown revealed that a purchaser of 80% receiver kits from the gun show was in a criminal enterprise that made and sold unserialized ghost guns on the streets of Philadelphia, making $500 on each sale, Shapiro said.
A second investigation resulting from the same gun show an illegal gun manufacturing and trafficking operation of these ghost guns at a house in Philadelphia while executing a search warrant, according to Shapiro.
“This decision by Eagle Arms Productions is a positive step toward limiting access to ghost guns by criminals," he said. "We also need to remain focused and vigilant to stop the current legal loopholes that allow prohibited purchasers to acquire, assemble and possess these ghost guns."
Shapiro said previous investigations show that ghost guns have been responsible for multiple homicides, including a Polymer80 9mm handgun used in two shooting deaths in July 2020 in Snyder County made from the 80% receiver kits that are now no longer sold at Eagle Arms’ gun shows as a result of this historic agreement.
Notably, the defendant charged with the two murders was prohibited from possessing a firearm at the time of the shooting, he added.
To date, 99 ghost guns in 2019, 250 in 2020, and more than 80 to date in 2021 have been recovered in Philadelphia, Shapiro said.
Adam Garber, executive director of the CeaseFirePA Education Fund, Pennsylvania's state-based gun violence prevention organization, issued the following statement after Shaprio's announcement:
“Ghost guns destroy lives just like a regular firearm, but are much easier to get because purchasers do not have to meet many legal requirements. It has made them increasingly the gun of choice for violent crimes over the last year as a surge of shootings have torn apart families and made cities warzones.
“Attorney General Shapiro’s historic agreement with Eagle Arms Productions will slow the flow of these weapons into criminal enterprises and violent individuals’ hands. Other gun show promoters shouldn’t wait for a sting to stop the sale of ghost gun kits like the Polymer 80. They should turn off the spigot now. It will not impede citizens to legally buy a firearm, but will save the lives of many Pennsylvanians.
Ultimately, we need the Biden Administration to declare that ghost guns are just as deadly as other firearms, and should be treated as such.”