URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– Champaign County prosecutors are set to try their first case involving “ghost guns” after a teenager was accused of assembling and selling them.
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said her office believes 18-year-old Keyon McLaurin was manufacturing guns from parts out of his home in Champaign.
“Ghost guns” are homebuilt guns, bought in pieces and assembled later. The trouble for law enforcement is that they don’t come with a serial number, making them virtually untraceable when a crime is committed using one.
Ghost guns are often sold online in kits and without background checks.
However, it’s not the manufacturing of the guns that’s illegal, it’s the number McLaurin was selling and who he was selling them to.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to close what he refers to as the “ghost gun loophole” at least twice this year.
“The availability of ‘ghost guns’ makes it possible for those who should not be able to purchase guns to get around crucial safety measures such as background checks,” Raoul said in a press release from August.
The Attorney General said “ghost guns” are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for those involved in neighborhood violence.
McLaurin is the first in Champaign County to be accused of selling them, according to Rietz. The police report said the 18-year-old admitted someone taught him how to make “ghost guns” to assemble from home and sell.
Rietz said as far as police and prosecutors can tell, they were all local sales.
McLaurin faces three charges.
The first is gun running for allegedly selling more than three untraceable guns. According to the police report, McLaurin admitted to selling five, but cell phone evidence suggests that number is higher.
He was also charged with firearms trafficking for allegedly bringing guns into the state without a valid FOID card.
The final charge is for the unlawful sale or delivery of firearms. The report said McLaurin sold a concealable gun to at least one minor.
If convicted, the 18-year-old could face decades in prison.
Mclaurin pleaded not guilty Wednesday at the Champaign County Courthouse. The case is set to go to trial sometime next year.