DC: Pay More for “Ghost Guns”; Get More “Ghost Guns”?

DC: Pay More for “Ghost Guns”; Get More “Ghost Guns”?

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- In Washington, the District of Columbia, the murder rate is soaring. The DC leadership has a scapegoat for their political problem – blame guns! Especially blame homemade guns!

They have a political solution: pay people more for snitching on people with guns, especially guns the DC politicians have banned in one way or another.

A significantly increased reward has been offered for anonymous information leading to the confiscation of guns and the arrest of people illegally possessing those guns, for a period of just over a month. The increased reward – of up to $7,500 – was announced on November 22, 2021. From wtop.com:

As homicide rates remain worryingly high in the District — up 12 percent compared to this time last year, according to D.C. police data — the city is raising the monetary incentive to get illegal guns off the street.

While the District offers up to $2,500 for tips that lead to the recovery of illegal guns, the city is partnering with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to raise that reward to $7,500.


Contee said that tips that lead to the recovery of any illegal weapons will still receive a partial reward.

The triple-level reward will only last until the end of 2021, or five weeks and three days. The DC police department guidelines do not mention the increased reward yet. Here are the guidelines from the DC Metropolitan Police Department:

Providing a gun tip anonymously is easy and safe. The tipline is open 24 hours a day. Note the following guidelines:

  • Calls to the anonymous Firearm Tip Line will be checked for veracity prior to rewards being paid.
  • Callers do not need to identify themselves to be eligible to receive a reward.
  • The process is absolutely anonymous — calls cannot be traced to identify the source of the call.
  • Rewards are paid for tips that result in a firearm recovery and/or arrest. Reward amount varies depending on the number and type of firearm(s) recovered and whether any arrests are made as a result of the tip, not to exceed $2,500.
  • Tips are assigned a unique AMS Tip Number. To receive payment, callers must retain this number. After seven days, callers may contact the Public Information Office at (202) 727-4383 to check on the status of the tip. If the tip has been deemed reliable, PIO staff will provide additional instructions.
  • Payment will be made through a single-use debit card through the DC Office of Finance and Treasury. Instructions on how to obtain the debit card will be provided at the time a tip is verified and payment is approved.
  • No identification necessary.

It appears “ghost guns” are near the historical percentage of guns that do not have serial numbers found in DC.  From nbcwashington.com:

Officers have taken more than 2,000 guns off the street and, as the city works to curb gun violence, there is growing concern over ghost guns, which are sold as parts and then assembled by the customer.

 Ghost guns have no serial number, require no background check and can sometimes even evade a metal detector. The Metropolitan Police Department has found them at murder scenes and on kids as young as 13. The I-Team tracked the numbers and found a record number of ghost guns already recovered in the District this year.

In 2020, they found 282 “Ghost Guns”. In 2021, by mid-November, they had found 313.  That is about 16% of the guns confiscated in DC.

In 1977, 20% of the guns seized by police in D.C. were homemade.

 128. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Analysis of Operation CUE (Concentrated Urban Enforcement), interim report 133-34 (February 15, 1977).

In 2010, over 12% of firearms in the DC and Prince George’s had no serial numbers, in a study done by the Washington Post.

How a “ghost gun” is defined in DC is uncertain. From x99news.com:

Last week, the DC Council voted to amend the city’s law banning ghost weapons in response to a federal lawsuit filed in September that alleged the law is “too far-reaching.”

Under current law, a ghost rifle is defined as “a firearm which, after removing all parts other than a receiver, is not as detectable… by metal detectors that are traverse.”

When all parts except the receiver are removed from a gun, only the polymer frame remains – which is not metal. For example, the suit alleges that the city “apparently unwittingly… made existing polymer-framed pistols illegal.”

Dick Heller filed a lawsuit. The DC Council has moved to amend the law:

However, the council approved an amendment to the law that would require weapons with attached barrel, trigger and firing mechanism to be detectable, even if the receiver is polymer-based. It would also add legal process for residents to possess homemade firearms.

The amendment has not gone into effect, as the change has to be approved of by the Mayor, Muriel Bowser (D).

It seems the amendment would exempt nearly all firearms.

Over the last two years, police have made more than 60 arrests for illegal guns resulting from tips. They paid out nearly $80,000 in rewards, or about $1,333 each arrest, at two to three arrests per month.

The program does not seem particularly popular. The rules make it clear a tipster has no idea how much they may actually get paid when a gun is confiscated or a person arrested.

How many of the arrests were for the victimless “crime” of someone exercising their Second Amendment rights? The process to obtain a permit to own or carry a firearm in the District is long and difficult.

When you are willing to pay more for something, you will typically get more of it, all other things being equal.

Increase the top award from $2500 to $7500 for five weeks, you would expect to get a few more tips. The short duration of the program and the uncertainty of the award means the effect will be very limited.

Perhaps Dick Heller will receive recompense for the time and trouble of his lawsuit used to inject a little sanity into the DC mess.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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