'Ghost Guns:' Law enforcement wary of do-it-yourself firearms
You can order just about anything online these days: TV's, take out, even groceries.
But did you know, you can purchase all the pieces needed for a completely untraceable, unregistered gun with just a few clicks of your mouse or phone?
They are called ghost guns and law enforcement personnel are sounding the alarm for what many now consider a do-it-yourself danger.
"If you have an internet connection you can buy guns like this," said Brad Garrett, ABC News Crime and Terrorism Analyst.
If you are 18 or 21 years-old depending on your state, you can log on to dozens of websites and purchase everything you need to assemble a firearm.
The build-your-own kits come with pre-cut components, instructions, even templates for the minor fabrication and machine work needed to complete the weapon.
A simple online search uncovered dozens of YouTube videos that even walk potential builders through the process.
“Whether it be an AR-15, a 40 caliber, Glock, fill in the blank, Garrett said. “You buy the parts individually. They are shipped to you and under federal law except for the receiver. All of these parts you can order without going through the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives or any of the firearms regulations for purchasing firearms.”
A.T.F officials say, “ghost guns” have already been seized in other parts of the country.
Experts say there's no evidence linking the weapons to specific crimes.
But there's agreement: it's a new threat for law enforcement.
"It's sort of a big loop hole in effect of keeping track of these weapons,” Garret said.
Because there are no serial numbers permanently etched onto the barrels, there is no way to trace the weapon or tell just how many are out there.
"The idea that law enforcement hasn't seized these weapons in any sort of quantity doesn't really mean anything as far as what is out there," Garrett said. "Because they are not controlled, technically every house around you could have one.”
As owner and president of ATP Gun Shop & Range in Summerville, Arlyn Pendergast has more than 30 years in the gun sale and repair game.
"I’ve seen them [home-built guns]. I've heard of them. And I’ve had a couple of customers who've made them,” Pendergast said.
Aself-professed “Second Amendment Guy,” he said most of the homemade weapons he’s seen are from collectors.
“Most people who’ve done it just wanted to see if they could do it. It was a challenge for them to see if they could finish it and make it work properly.”
Still, Pendergast admits “ghost guns” ending up in the wrong hands are concerning.
“If a person is making these to sell to someone who shouldn’t have them, I totally don’t agree with it," he said. "If you can’t own a gun, you should not have a gun.”
ABC News 4 asked him to show us just how difficult it would be to purchase the parts.
Pendergast reached into a case and produced a shiny black piece of finished metal, a receiver for an AR-15.
"If you don’t drill these holes precisely, you won’t get your hammer trigger engagement correct," he demonstrated.
It requires a drill press, widely available at home improvement stores nationwide.
"It’s really not that hard. Pendergast said.” They provide jigs for you that bolt onto the lower receiver and with a drill press you can drill the holes through it. With a little bit of machining required on the drill press, which is nothing more than drilling a few holes and putting them together, you have the lower receiver completed.”
So why aren’t more ghost guns on the streets?
"It is pretty easy to do, if in fact, you want to take the time," he said. “But I think that’s the saving grace. People who really want to acquire a firearm quickly are going to go find one that they can either buy off the street or at a gun show."
We did check in with the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives and received a statement from the field office in Charlotte.
It said at this point, no ghost guns have been recovered in a crime here in the Carolina,s and there are no open investigations.
Gun owners who wish to manufacture their own gun, can register the weapon legally.
But under federal law, the creation and possession of ghost guns is only permitted with a license to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution.