As firearm violence grows within Ames, police find another concern: Ghost Guns


Amber Mohmand/Iowa State Daily

The Story County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference June 3, where they released details of the shooting at Ames’ Cornerstone Church.

Maximilian Lisowski

Gun violence has become an ever-growing problem for the nation — seeping into school systems for several decades. 

From shootings within big cities, parades or even a place of worship, it seems that it’s a never-ending problem that cannot be fixed. It has made its way to almost every corner of the U.S., including Story County and Ames.

Just this year, the Ames community saw a handful of gun-related incidents — two of which were attempted murders. Last month, there was also a shooting that killed two at a church nearby. 

While the initial damage a shooting creates is nearly impossible to prevent, it seems the police force within our community is doing its part to keep Ames as safe as possible.  

In Ames, it appears the community is getting a transparent police force. The Ames Police Department has been open about the violence within the community and even commented on the increase in gun-related incidents and their concerns for our community. 

“In 2021, five shots were fired with ill-intent,” Ames Police Cmdr. Dan Walters said, “The average amount of homicides per year in Ames was 1.2, but this year there have already been three.” 

Ames — home to about 30,000 students and even more law-abiding citizens — is experiencing increased gun violence. If this trend continues, it could be detrimental to the growth of the city and the safety of our close-knit communities.

While gun violence is growing within Ames, there grows another concern for the city: Ghost Guns. According to Ames police, two groups are feuding in the city, and ghost guns seem to be an accessory. 

Ghost guns are constructed by individuals using unfinished frames or receivers — the piece of the firearm that contains the operating parts of the firing mechanism — which are the parts of the gun regulated by the federal government. There are websites online where someone can buy a frame or receiver that is “unfinished,” making it unregulated. What’s even more concerning is that anyone can purchase the kits. There are no background checks. There is no way to trace the weapon. Their main purpose is to avoid all gun laws. 

“These websites are exploiting a loophole in the system,” Walters said. “You can order the whole [ghost gun] kit where you only have to drill a few holes to make it usable. These guns are not good for any law-abiding citizen.” The Ames Police Department is diligently working to keep our community safe, but these weapons could prove difficult to keep from the hands of individuals prohibited from buying guns.  

Iowa has already put some laws into place that help prevent gun violence, but they only apply to schools. In an effort to reduce shootings, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to develop high-quality emergency plans for school buildings in 2018.  

More recently, Kim Reynolds announced June 14 that $100 million would be invested into school safety funding to support the over 500 schools within Iowa in response to the increase in school shootings nationwide. 

“Every family should be able to confidently send their children to school knowing they’ll be safe,” Reynolds said. “These investments will make a tremendous impact on our ability to prevent violence in schools while also taking steps to ensure schools and communities are in the best position possible to respond to an active event.” 

While this issue is not easy to fix, lawmakers have been looking for solutions to prevent gun violence in every environment — especially in schools. 

To address general gun violence, Biden signed a bipartisan gun bill intended to prevent dangerous individuals from accessing firearms and increase the funding for the nation’s mental health system.

This federal-level bill came about a month after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. This event seemed to stir the feelings of both the left and right to join together and finally make a change after decades of debate over what should be done about gun violence within the U.S. 

“Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved,” President Joe Biden said. The Senate approved the bill 65-33. Fifteen Republicans joined all Democrats in the vote hoping the bill would reduce gun violence around the country.  

Known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the bill will strengthen background checks for gun purchasers between 18 and 21 and add extra punishments to those who try to purchase weapons through another person or by trafficking. These offenses are now federal crimes.