'Ghost guns' are growing problem in Milwaukee, police say

Police say untraceable firearms, better known as "ghost guns," are a growing problem around the country – including Milwaukee.

Milwaukee police say ghost guns have all the power of a regular weapon. But what makes them so appealing is they are essentially untraceable.

"It’s upon further inspection that you realize it might not have a serial number," said Milwaukee Police Inspector Paul Lough. "It’s essentially a do-it-yourself, homemade firearm, made with building blocks that are readily available through the internet or other sources."

Milwaukee Police Inspector Paul Lough

Lough said ghost guns can easily hinder a police investigation.

"It’s easier for someone who is prohibited to get their hands on a firearm," Lough said. "Outside somebody caught with one of those guns telling us where they got it from, it kind of creates a roadblock."

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

New numbers show how much of a problem this has become for the City of Milwaukee.

"To put it in perspective, 2020 your total year we had 8 ghost guns recovered. 2021 we had 37 recovered – and half of 22 we’re already at 52 ghost guns recovered," Lough said.

That is a 550% increase very the last two-and-a-half years. 

Milwaukee is not alone. The White House says police found 20,000 ghost guns across the country last year. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

Now, police say the law is catching up. New federal laws will go into effect this August requiring serial numbers on ghost gun kits and those currently in circulation. Officials hope this will contain the growing trend. 

Milwaukee police say while ghost guns are untraceable, they are able to run a separate analysis on casings – to see if weapons have been used in other crimes.