Franklin man federally charged with making, selling ‘ghost guns’

A Franklin man has been arrested and federally charged for unlawfully manufacturing and selling privately made firearms, also known as “ghost guns.”

Alexander Clark, 26, was charged by criminal complaint for the federal offenses of dealing firearms without a license, possession and/or transfer of machine guns and manufacturing machine guns, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Indiana.

In May of 2022, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF, began an investigation into Clark for manufacturing and selling privately made firearms, including machine guns. Over the course of the next several months, ATF agents purchased several 3-D printed Glock-style firearms and devices capable of converting semiautomatic rifles to fully automatic machine guns from Clark, the release says.

A search warrant was executed at Clark’s residence on Monday, in conjunction with the criminal complaint, and Clark was arrested.

During the search of Clark’s residence, officers seized approximately 30 firearms — including several 3-D printed firearms — several “Glock switches” used to convert firearms into machine guns, a suspected fully automatic AR-15 rifle, 3-D printing filament, a laptop with a Glock frame on screen connected to a 3-D printer, and a silencer.

Clark does not possess a Federal Firearms License authorizing him to sell firearms and he had not registered the weapons in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, according to the release. 3-D printed firearms of this type are untraceable and are referred to as “ghost guns.”

Ghost guns are unserialized, privately made firearms that have been increasingly recovered by law enforcement at crime scenes across the country, the release says. Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on legal firearms, they are impossible for law enforcement to trace.

Clark made his initial court appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and he was ordered to be detained, pending a hearing. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence, if any, after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors, according to the release.

ATF is investigating this case in collaboration with the Columbus Police Department.

This case is part of the Department of Justice’s National Ghost Gun Initiative, the release says. The initiative was launched in February 2022 in response to the increase of ghost guns in communities and the growing number of individuals who unlawfully use or possess these untraceable weapons.