Discussion of gun violence in Omaha intensifies with complications of tracking ghost guns

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The task of tracking guns and keeping them out of the hands of those willing to use them is now made harder by kits sold on the internet.

“With the guns being out here, people are going to get them, if they get them, they use them.”

For more than a decade, former State Senator Ernie Chambers has called for serious discussion on gun violence.

“Those of us that understand guns know that people use guns to kill people. The gun itself is the instrumentality of which the death from shooting would not occur and people use that instrumentality,” said Chambers.

He says gun manufactures need to be held accountable.

“As long as they don’t go after the guns, as long as people in the community are not talking about the source of the guns, we’re not talking about anything that will stem this gun violence,” said Chambers.

Looking at OPD crime stats, we found some sobering data. OPD doesn’t break out gun-related homicides but when we look at non-fatal shootings between 2017 and 2020, we found a sharp increase in incidents where a gun is used and more people hurt in shootings.

“And we see it younger and younger, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17-year-olds and they’re willing to use it. They have no fear in using it. If you go back to the early 1980s, we didn’t see the kind of gun violence with young people that we see today and that’s very disturbing,” said Don Kleine, Douglas County Attorney.

He says going after the gun industry isn’t the issue. He says it’s about holding those who use guns to commit crimes accountable, which may be more difficult.

“We’re seeing these out on the streets now and that’s an issue. It doesn’t have a serial number, there’s no way to track it or trace it,” said Kleine.

Because the kit isn’t classified as a firearm, it’s already a problem in Omaha.

“This is a working firearm. In this case, this firearm was used to shoot at a police officer,” said Kleine.

Kleine says the only way police determined this was the weapon used is because it was with the suspect when apprehended. Adding to the problem of tracing guns.

“To try and figure out where these guns are coming from that the bad guys have, this makes it more difficult,” said Kleine.

Kleine says responsible owners have a right to own a gun, it all comes down to personal responsibility. For Ernie Chambers, that’s not enough.

“If the blame game could be done away with and we would have concerns about young people and the harm that they can do multiplied with the guns. They need to do something about the guns.”

Omaha police report taking more than 2,000 guns off our streets in the last 18 months. Police were able to trace 183 of those guns which were found to be stolen.

As for ghost guns, Don Kleine says he’s working with the U.S. attorney’s office to determine what can be done to make sure they don’t wind up in the hands of criminals.

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