Lilly Wojcik starring for Susquehannock, Team USA field hockey

New efforts can counter ‘ghost-guns’

York Dispatch editorial board
An unassembled "ghost gun" on display at the police press conference on the most recent gun related crime in York on July 12, 2022.

Thumbs up for the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to more closely regulate homemade firearms, an increasingly popular weapon among criminals.

“Ghost guns,” as they’re known, are assembled from pre-packaged kits. They don’t include serial numbers, making them virtually untraceable, and buyers do not need to undergo background checks.

If this sounds like a transparently brazen method for avoiding laws that govern the purchase of most traditional guns, that’s because it is. This fact isn’t lost on the lawless. The Department of Justice reports that the number of privately made firearms recovered by law enforcement has leapfrogged more than tenfold between 2017 and 2021. That includes hundreds recovered throughout Pennsylvania, including in York City.

New federal rules that went into effect last month should help slow this trend. They require ghost-guns to include serial numbers and buyers to undergo background checks.

At least they’ll require those sensible steps if pro-gun advocates don’t have their way in court. Judges in Texas and North Dakota have already rejected efforts to block the new rules, but a complaint filed by 17 Republican attorneys general, the gun-rights group Gun Owners of America and other anti-gun-law lobbying groups likewise seeks to reverse the rules.

With gun-related homicides on the rise — including in York County, which has already this year seen more gun-related fatalities than in all of 2020 or 2021 — obstinate opposition to even modest common-sense efforts to reduce the circulation of untraceable weapons is indefensible.

Thumbs down for Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz’s sleazy new campaign strategy: politicizing the stroke sustained by his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Fetterman’s stroke is no secret, although his initial efforts to downplay its seriousness did neither him nor his campaign any favors. But Oz, the celebrity physician endorsed by Donald Trump but trailing in a race in which his name recognition was expected to make him more competitive, has taken to making his rival’s health a key talking point.

“Top Oz aides have mocked Fetterman’s health, diet, and recovery in statements and social media posts,” reports CNN.

This is what desperation looks like.

A political novice and longtime resident of neighboring New Jersey, Oz has yet to establish himself as a preferable candidate, at least according to recent polls.

The unseemly statements about Fetterman’s health seem at least partially intended to goad him into agreeing to a debate. The lieutenant governor has cited the aftereffects of his stroke — along with suspicions Oz would “appeal to folks who get their jollies making fun of the stroke dude” — in thus far declining to schedule a face-to-face meeting.

Given the tenor of recent statements by the struggling Oz camp, one can hardly blame him.

Thumbs up for the York City Council’s latest effort to protect one of the region’s most noteworthy resources: its freshwater creeks, rivers and lakes.

The council last month enacted new restrictions on allowing water mixed with soap, cleaning chemicals or detergents to be discharged into local storm drains. The ordinances, mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, ban car owners from washing their vehicles with soap in driveways, along public roads or anywhere that would result in soapy water draining into the storm system.

Professional car washes and other facilities that have filtration systems to treat watery runoff are exempt. And vehicles can still be washed in yards or on gravel driveways, so long as any runoff doesn’t reach storm drains.

This relatively small lifestyle change can have a big environmental payoff. Area storm systems drain into creeks and rivers throughout York County’s six major watersheds and, eventually, all the way to Chesapeake Bay, which itself is the target of ongoing state cleanup efforts.

As Lettice Brown, the York’s stormwater manager, told the Dispatch: “Entire ecosystems may die if we don’t watch what we are doing.”