Reporter from The Trace Claims People ‘Snap’ Ghost Guns Together ‘Within Minutes’

AWR Hawkins/Breitbart News
AWR Hawkins/Breitbart News

The Trace reporter Alain Stephens claims people buy gun parts kits and “snap” so-called ghost guns together “within minutes.”

On April 8, 2021, President Joe Biden announced executive action against guns built from parts kits, repeatedly referring to the firearms as “ghost guns.”

NPR interviewed Stephens two days later, saying, “So President Biden says he wants to rein in so-called ghost guns. The first thing I’m going to ask you is, what are those?”

Stephens responded, “These weapons are essentially something that you could snap together within minutes.”

He continued:

And because of this…[such guns have] appealed not only to, you know, hobbyists who want to build their own weapons and do so a lot easier, but it’s also appealed to, you know, essentially, the criminal underworld who have, essentially, two really good reasons for doing this. One, you can get this weapon without having to go through background checks. If you have a criminal record or anything like that, none of that applies.

The key component of guns built from kits is the receiver (rifle) or frame (pistol), both of which come only partially finished and are thus labeled as 80 percent receivers/80 percent frames. Receivers and frames are available in polymer or metal, and just finishing the job to the point where it can accept parts and be functional takes far more than mere minutes.

For example, with a metal 80 percent frame, the first step in the process of building a pistol involves milling/drilling the remaining 20 percent of the frame that was not completed.  That requires certain tools and/or machines, and the knowledge necessary to use them. It also requires time.

Once a metal 80 percent frame for a pistol is finished, it can take some work to mate the parts kit with the frame in a way that creates a reliable firearm. Again, this takes time and is a process that requires some degree of gunsmithing knowledge (or access to someone who has such knowledge).  This is because it is not uncommon to have to polish or shave aspects of certain parts in order correct the fit and have the firearm operate reliably. Otherwise, a firearms enthusiast can end up with a gun that shoots once, then locks open or fails to fire or displays any number of issues due to parts with rough edges or a slight misfit.

After spending all the time required to complete the metal frame, then polish, shave, and otherwise finetune various parts, maybe then the gun can be snapped together “within minutes.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at You can sign up to get Down Range at


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