Yale Daily News

The city has seen the number of “ghost guns” — illegal guns made from recycled and homemade parts — on the rise; since the year’s start, police have seized nine ghost guns, compared to three by the same time last year. 

Officials revealed the information at the New Haven Police Department’s weekly press conference on Monday, which Mayor Justin Elicker, Acting Chief of Police Renee Dominguez and Police Captain John Healy spoke at. A ghost gun is created using a combination of recycled materials from other guns and some 3D-printed parts. Since these weapons can be manufactured at home, they are far harder to regulate. Ghost guns can be made from kits sold online, allowing users to skirt safeguards like background checks, according to The New York Times. Additionally, ghost guns are far harder to trace than other guns. 

“The thing about a ghost gun is that it’s not serialized,” Healy said. “The biggest part in tracing through eTrace and all our tracing systems is that without a serial number we don’t have a good way to do that.”

Over the past week, the NHPD has recovered two ghost guns, bringing the year’s total to nine recovered. By this time last year, only three ghost guns had been seized.

The rise in ghost guns is a nationwide trend. Dominguez said the department is working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to uncover the source of New Haven’s uptick. 

“ATF is involved,” Dominguez said. “We obviously have task force officers with the ATF. Captain Healy is also working on trying to find any commonalities between the nine guns so we can find where they are coming from.”

Healy said he hopes that an ATF representative can speak about these ongoing efforts at next week’s NHPD press conference. 

Officials also discussed officer recruitment, after the fall 2021 NHPD application period ended on Friday. In mid-October, when NHPD had received 330 applications, NHPD officials said they were aiming for 1000 more applicants. But at the beginning of Monday’s press conference,  Elicker said that the NHPD had received only 523. Still, the figure is a 15 percent increase from last year. 

“We are going to be doing another push to put it out there that we do have lateral positions along with entry level positions,” Dominguez added.

Elicker also spoke about the first community input session on the Community Crisis Response Team — “an additional first response unit specializing in de-escalation, harm reduction, and providing rapid access to social services during moments of distress,” according to a press release from City Hall.

“Generally, the consensus from the individuals that showed up is that they endorse the overall idea of the concept,” Elicker said. “They particularly highlighted the importance of having someone that is knowledgeable about the neighborhood being involved.”

There will be two more input sessions, one virtual and one in-person, on the role of the Community Response Team.

There were two non-lethal shootings over the past week. Last Wednesday, a 55-year-old man was shot in the foot, and a 56-year-old man was shot last Sunday. Both shootings are still under investigation. Last Friday, police arrested a man for allegedly slashing someone from the neck to the shoulder. Last Thursday, a pedestrian, Monica Wormley, was struck and killed by a CT Transit bus while crossing Chapel Street near Orange. 

The Chapel Street investigation is still ongoing.

Khuan-Yu Hall is the City Editor at the News. He is a sophomore in Davenport, from Hartland, Vermont, double majoring in Statistics and Data Science and Ethics, Politics, and Economics.