Ghost guns and altered weapons in Rapid City

Recent incidents involve people who alter rifles and shotguns to become easy to conceal and hard to trace.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:40 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Last weekend Rapid City Police confiscated weapons that were altered to be more concealable.

When talking about concealed weapons, many people think of handguns. But shotguns and rifles can be modified as well. A spokesperson for the Rapid City Police Department says the main reasons They see people modify guns are to make the serial numbers harder to read and to make the guns harder to detect before committing a crime.

Shotguns and rifles are typically more powerful making the weapon more dangerous when altered.

“The presence of a pistol grip can also be particularly effective at creating carnage if You combine it so You have something that has a pistol grip but is also short barreled because that gives you that concealability,” said David Pucino, Deputy Chief Counsel of Giffords Law Center.

The police also say a newer form of untraceable weapons come as either kits or “ghost guns.”

Weapon kits contain most of the parts needed to assemble a weapon, but leave out one or two things for a person to add.

“Ghost guns” are similar but are constructed mostly from 3D-printed parts.

Neither kits nor ghost guns require background checks.

“Ghost guns get around that by saying through various ways that there’s no sale of a gun from a licensed person to a licensed entity. Instead they’re selling something that’s less than a gun, this is their claim and because it’s less than a gun it doesn’t need to have kinds of protections that happen with the sale of guns,” said Pucino

Pucino says this line of reasoning creates issues with registering and tracking the weapons after they are functional. If You are thinking of altering a firearm in any way, police say to make sure You aren’t obscuring the serial number so They can still identify the gun and return it if it is lost. Additionally, it is against South Dakota law to conceal a short shotgun.