Police in Camden highlight dangers of ‘ghost guns’

Gun Rights

CAMDEN ― The numbers keep growing, Camden County Commissioner Lou Cappelli noted Tuesday: In 2020, police in the city seized 300 guns; in 2021, that number was 332; and so far in 2022, police have seized 322 guns, with two months still left to go.

Cappelli also noted another potentially alarming increase.

In 2019, Camden County police seized 7 so-called “ghost guns,” guns that are purchased in pieces as kits, and which have no serial numbers. In 2020, the number of ghost guns seized in Camden grew to 32 and nearly doubled to 61 in 2021.

This year, that number is already 45 and law enforcement officials fear that number will end up even higher as ghost guns surge in popularity, something Camden County Police Department Chief Gabe Rodriguez believes puts officers, and the public, at greater risk.

You Might Like

Rodriguez, speaking behind a table arranged with 70 guns and cartridges at the department’s Federal Street headquarters, was going to challenge journalists to discern which guns were ghost guns and which were traditionally manufactured firearms just by looking at them.

Public safety in the city:Well-lit streets make everyone safer. Here’s how one nonprofit is helping

“Knowing which ones are ghost guns is very difficult to determine,” the chief said. “The differences are, you can purchase one legally, and one you purchase in pieces and put together, or print out and put together on a 3D printer ― and they’re untraceable.”

Rodriguez recalled a 2020 arrest in South Camden in which officers spotted a man known to them from a prior weapons offense. The man was carrying not only a ghost gun, but also a 50-round magazine of ammunition.

“This was a young man who was previously convicted of carrying a ghost gun, a gun that was untraceable, carrying 46 rounds of ammunition in there.

“To do what?” Rodriguez asked rhetorically. “Not to protect himself, but to cause harm to others.”

Police Lt. Christy Sarlo, demonstrating the ease with which a ghost gun can be assembled, likened the weapons to model car kits. While they cannot legally be shipped or sold to an individual in New Jersey, she said, the kits can be sold to federally licensed gun distributors — and what happens to them afterward is up to buyers, who may or may not add serial numbers.

Camden’s environment:A trail traces Camden’s ecology along the water

The more guns on Camden’s streets, Cappelli said, the greater the danger for officers walking the beat and for citizens going about their daily lives.

“Each time one of these guns is confiscated, there is a potential danger to our officers. Each confiscation could result in a very bad happening within our department and within our city,” said Cappelli, liaison to the police department.

“Our officers are the professionals who make sure these events don’t occur, so there are safe confiscations,” he added. “Illegal gun ownership continues to be a problem and these illegal ghost guns are a particular problem. The ghost guns are designed to get around any gun laws in this country.”

Cappelli, noting New Jersey’s strict gun control laws, called on Congressional leaders to adopt stronger gun control measures, and to “put your self-interests behind you,” and to stop taking contributions from “the sleazy leaders of the NRA and to the sleazy gun lobbyists and the sleazy gun manufacturers.”

The majority of the guns seized in Camden come from Pennsylvania, Cappelli said, where gun control laws are less restrictive. He pointed to Philadelphia’s escalating gun violence and homicide rates as evidence that the Keystone State needs more gun control measures.

She fought for her city:Camden’s Rosa Ramirez remembered as a ‘social justice warrior’

“Take a deep breath,” he said. “Think about what that particular weapon that you currently permit in the United States of America could do to our police officers and to the members of our public.”

The guns displayed Tuesday were just a small fraction of the number seized, Rodriguez said: The department’s evidence room contains about 6,000 weapons, all seized “without us firing a shot.” Officers work with community members, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and community stakeholders to stay informed especially in the city’s most challenged neighborhoods.

“This is mostly now a Camden problem,” Rodriguez said, with the city leading South Jersey municipalities in the number of guns seized. “But it is going to spread, and it’s scary.”

Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has covered Camden and surrounding areas since 2015, concentrating on issues relating to quality of life and social justice for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. She’s called South Jersey home since 1971. Contact her with feedback, news tips or questions at ptrethan@gannettnj.com, on Twitter @By_Phaedra, or by phone at 856.486-2417.

Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.

You Might Like

Articles You May Like

Mini Uzi .45 ACP Close-up
Joy Reid Runs Through Stunning Gun Death Statistics, Blasts Red State Low Voter Participation as ‘Learned Helplessness’
Olight Warrior 3 plus Flash Sale
5 Secret Tips on how to get better at Archery!
This Power Bank is Made From Carbon Fiber ( NiteCore NB10000 Gen 2 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *