HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police say there has been a 20% increase in gun violence so far this year. The department has even ramped up patrol in response to all the shootings.
They also created a special team to track something that’s new to the islands: Ghost guns.
Ghost guns have no serial numbers so they’re impossible to track and you don’t need a background check to get one. And right now, they’re completely legal in Hawaii.
“We have noticed crimes involving the ghost guns,” Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said.
So where are people getting them? Lots of times, online.
Tom Tomimbang, managing partner at 808 Gun Club, said ghost guns ― from pistols to AR15s to AK47s ― can be easily ordered and shipped to just about anyplace.
They’re legal because what you’re getting is not a complete firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Instead, they’re 80% complete.
“You would need tools, you would need some knowhow to know how to do this,” Tomimbang said.
Once the rest of the 20% is complete, you are required to take the now fully functioning firearm down to HPD to register it.
“It’s based right now on a honor system,” said Tomimbang.
Tomimbang said ghost guns are attractive to gun enthusiasts who want to build their own guns. But they’re also attracting criminals.
Sources say 34-year-old Dustin Spencer used a ghost gun on officers in the parking lot of New City Nissan in Kalihi earlier this week.
They also say a ghost gun was used to kill 20-year-old Alan Jennings outside of Lucky Strike at Ala Moana Center in September.
In addition to the creating a task force to tackle the trend, Ballard said her agency will propose legislation in the upcoming session to ban the possession of ghost guns.
U.S. Attorney Kenji Price for the District of Hawaii said his office is also monitoring the trend as well and exploring federal charges.
“For any of those criminals who want to run around wreaking havoc on our streets, thinking that they will only be prosecuted on the state side of the house, they should that if we find out about you, there’s a good chance one of my prosecutors will be talking to a state prosecutor about how we can get more bang for the buck and make sure we can put you away for a long time,” said Price.
It’s not just Hawaii dealing with ghost guns.
Other states are also considering legislation to restrict homemade firearms to keep them out of the hands of criminals.