The Bronx District Attorney is among a group of prosecutors asking two credit card companies to no longer process online purchases of so-called “ghost guns” – untraceable firearms that can be assembled at home – as a way of reducing gun violence.
In a letter to Visa and Mastercard earlier this week, Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark – who co-chairs Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, an advocacy group – referred to ghost guns as “one of the most serious gun safety problems facing this country.”
Ghost guns are firearms with no serial number and made up of component parts. They are usually purchased online and can be assembled in just under 30 minutes
“The untraceable nature of ghost guns makes it challenging for law enforcement to solve the crimes they are used in and bring criminals to justice,” Clark wrote in the letter sent this week.
The letter comes as the use of ghost guns continues to increase across the city. It also comes as gun violence remains a major concern for law enforcement.
Last year, the NYPD recovered 275 ghost guns, the most when compared to previous years, according to police data. This year, the police department recovered 153 ghost guns, up 314% compared to the same time a year ago. This year, the police department recovered 153 ghost guns, up 314% compared to the same time a year ago. Just last month, prosecutors brought several charges against a Brooklyn man for allegedly stashing 13 ghost guns in his apartment.
There have been efforts on the city, state, and federal level to address the proliferation of ghost guns.
On Wednesday Mayor Eric Adams said that his administration sent a letter to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency to revoke the license of Polymer80, makers of high-powered ghost guns found at the scenes of shootings in the city.
“This is not a New York City problem. It’s an American problem,” Adams said.
Last month, the Biden administration introduced a new rule that would require ghost gun manufacturers to be licensed, stamp serial numbers on their parts and perform background checks on buyers. However, the rule wouldn’t take effect until August of this year at the earliest. Gov. Kathy Hochul, meantime, signed legislation that bans the sale of ghost guns in New York state.
In the letter, Clark said if Visa and Mastercard agree to block ghost gun sales it would address the gap before the Biden rule kicks in.
“We are asking that you take action now to help keep hundreds if not thousands of ghost guns from being built and used in crimes in the next three months,” she told Visa and Mastercard in the letter.
Seth Eisen, a spokesperson for Mastercard, said, “Where laws prohibit the sale of unserialized firearms parts, we are working to ensure Mastercard products cannot be used to purchase them. We will continue to engage with lawmakers, law enforcement and others on important topics such as this.”’
A representative for Visa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.