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Impact of ‘ghost gun’ restrictions unclear given lack of data

Media Contact

Gillian Smith

In discussing proposed gun control measures Thursday, President Joe Biden announced plans to restrict access to “ghost guns,” which would require parts of the gun making kits to have serial numbers so they can be traced and would also require background checks for people purchasing the kits.


Max Kapustin

Assistant Professor of Policy Analysis and Management

Max Kapustin, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University, studies interventions to improve life outcomes of disadvantaged youth and adults with a particular focus on reducing their exposure to violence. He says while there is not enough data to know the impact of “ghost guns,” the measures are a step in the right direction.

Kapustin says:

“It’s hard to estimate what impact the recently announced measures related to ‘ghost guns’ might have because we just don’t have the data to know how large and widespread a problem they are now. So-called ‘trace’ data about the sources of weapons recovered by police are typically very difficult for researchers to access, making it hard to predict the impacts that policies like this may have.”

“The President is also correct in his characterization of the immense toll of gun violence on young Black men in the U.S. They are more than 10 times as likely as young white men to die of gun homicide. Calling attention to this enormous gap in basic safety and devoting resources to close it are both encouraging steps.”

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