My name is Matt *****. I am a full-time deputy sheriff and have been so employed for 17 years. I am a court recognized firearms expert, a lifelong shooting sports enthusiast and in my spare time, I write firearms and firearm related gear reviews for several media outlets, both online and print.
I am writing this letter as I attempt to sit through the YouTube video (http://youtu.be/xI6eE_FAwao) of your recent press conference given on January 13, 2014. As someone quite knowledgeable about firearms, I find it extremely difficult to listen to your presentation because almost nothing you said about these “Ghost Guns” (a term you used repeatedly that I have never once heard before) is factually correct.
I would like to try and both educate you at the same time as I dispel with the lies and obfuscations you presented to the media during that press conference.
- 3D printed plastic guns do exist, but even the one example that was made from the most plastic of any of them (the “Liberator”) still contained a metal firing pin. It was also a single shot pistol, not a semi-automatic firearm.
- Side Note: firearm ammunition is all still made with metallic cartridge cases and metallic projectiles so even if the gun could pass undetected through a metal detector, the ammo could not
- 3D printed metal guns also do exist, and there is a semi-automatic handgun (a 1911) that was produced in that manner that has been fired extensively, but that technology is far from cheap or readily available. Additionally, since it is made of metal, it cannot pass through metal detectors undetected.
- The forged, 80% AR-15 lower receiver you held up, and drew specific attention to, during the press conference is no more an “engine” (horrible choice of terminology by the way) for an AR-15 than an un-machined, rough cast engine block is the “engine” for a car. You were holding a rough forging, nothing more. That forging you were holding still requires a great number of machine steps using expensive milling machines or CNC machines. During that machining process, a missed tolerance of 0.001” can render that rough forging completely useless. What you were holding was no more an AR-15 “engine” than any of the rocks in my garden.
- In fact, what you described as a “lower receiver”, and held up for the cameras, is in fact most definitely NOT a lower receiver. If you doubt me, please contact the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for clarification. They will tell you the same thing: that item is not a lower receiver.
- I am unfamiliar with the “sniper automatic weapons” you mentioned that are being produced by 3D printing methods or building of “Ghost Guns”. I can only assume you meant a semi-automatic sniper rifle, but then that would be an assumption on my part and I would hate to put words in your mouth.
- Serial numbers have absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement “detecting” firearms. Serial numbers are only used as identifying marks so that one rifle can be distinguished from another. They also aid in tracking ownership of firearms, which is what I believe is your goal with this legislation.
- The “Ghost Gun” that you held up, which was an illegal weapon in the State of CA for other reasons, not the least of which was the short barrel, was clearly not made from plastic and was not a 3D printed gun. That gun was made from almost 100% metal. The only plastic parts on that gun appear to the be the butt stock, the pistol grip and the forward vertical grip.
- For further clarification on that “Ghost Gun”
- It is most likely a .22 caliber (.223 or 5.56mm) rifle, not a .30 caliber rifle like you stated
- A clip is not used with most modern semi-auto firearms. Rather they use magazines as the ammunition feeding device. Sometimes, clips are used to reload the magazines though. Please get the terminology correct. It really does make a difference.
- There are only a few guns on the planet that can “disperse with 30 bullets in half a second”. A fully automatic AR-15 (already illegal in CA) has a rate of fire of 800 rounds per minute. Doing the math, that is 13.3 rounds per second, or about 7 rounds per half-second. A semi-automatic rifle, such as the one you were holding, can only fire as fast as the shooter pulls the trigger.
- Spewing nonsense such as the rate of fire you claim, while it may play well with the media and the uneducated public, does more harm to your argument with intelligent people than you can imagine. Plus, it just makes you look uneducated.
- Producing an AR-15 from an 80% receiver is in fact not illegal as you stated. Both federal and state laws allow for the individual to legally produce their own firearm, so long as a long list of criteria are met.
- For further clarification on that “Ghost Gun”
- The “automatic sniper weapon” you held up is nothing more than another AR-15. It is no more or less accurate than any of my 100 year old bolt-action rifles that I own. In fact, the 100 year old rifles that I own fire far more powerful cartridges, that are actually more accurate at longer distances, than the cartridge fired by an AR-15.
You assert that assembling a complete, functioning AR-15 from a legally purchased 80% lower is a simple task. I myself have completed that task, but I am not the average American. I have a well-equipped shop with all the necessary machinery, and the knowledge to use that machinery, in order to complete the lower receiver. You make it seem that any fool with a drill press can complete the task, which is a vast oversimplification.
I challenge you sir, to put your money where your mouth is so to speak. Show me how easily, you personally, can complete the machine work on that raw lower receiver forging you held up, and assemble a working AR-15.
The incident in Santa Monica that you mention, while tragic, is not evidence of any great crime streak or rising criminal trend in which “Ghost Guns” are being employed. To my knowledge, that is the only incident the State of CA has experienced where a firearm built on an 80% lower was employed to commit a homicide. Please, correct me if I am wrong on that matter.
Finally, while I am not surprised at all that you would have a member of the Brady Campaign as a supporter while you are calling for more legislation designed to make it harder for Americans to own firearms, as a law enforcement officer, I am saddened that you used several high-ranking, politically appointed police administrators as window dressing to lend credibility to your argument, as you stood there rattling off complete nonsense.