Ghost guns recovered
Six “ghost guns” recovered in the investigation. Courtesy San Diego Police

President Joe Biden Monday announced measures intended to crack down on so-called “ghost guns” — drawing praise from San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert and county Board of Supervisors chair Nathan Fletcher, following similar actions taken by the city and county in recent months.

“Today’s long-awaited rule change is a critical step in curbing the shocking rise in gun violence in our country, much of it fueled by the proliferation of ghost guns,” said von Wilpert, who wrote and helped pass the Eliminate Non-Serialized Untraceable Firearms ordinance in the city last year.

“Requiring these buy-build-shoot gun kits to have serial numbers and licensed dealers to perform background checks at the time of purchase will help keep firearms out of the hands of individuals intent on violence.”

 Said Fletcher: “President Biden’s administration recognizes the devastating effect ghost guns are having on local communities. I’m pleased they are taking action to better regulate the buy and build gun kits.”

In January, the Board of Supervisors also passed an ordinance requiring safe firearm storage and prohibiting the distribution or creation of ghost guns in the county.

“We stepped up … to eradicate these dangerous weapons from our neighborhoods, and the action by the White House strengthens our rules locally,” Fletcher said Monday.

Ghost guns are unregulated firearms that lack serial numbers by which they can be identified and are typically assembled from purchased or homemade components. Minors or those normally prohibited from owning firearms can purchase such a weapon without a background check.

A ghost gun was used in an April 2021 shooting that killed a man outside a hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. The suspect, a convicted felon prohibited from owning firearms, also shot and wounded several other people nearby before being tackled by bystanders and arrested.

In a release Monday, the White House said 20,000 “unserialized, privately made firearms” were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2021, a tenfold increase on 2016.

Under Biden’s new rule, “buy build shoot” kits  — do-it-yourself gun kits that individuals can buy without a background check and assemble into a working firearm at home — will be considered firearms under the Gun Control Act, which requires serial numbers on each firearm, sellers be licensed and background checks on purchasers.

Additionally, Biden’s Department of Justice intends to turn some existing ghost guns into serialized firearms by requiring serial numbers be added on resale.

In February, while speaking at New York police headquarters, Biden said the weight of the government would move against those breaking the law in regard to ghost guns.

“Not only are state and local prosecutors going to come after you, but expect federal charges and federal prosecution too,” he said.

Updated at 5:09 p.m., April 11, 2022

–City News Service, Inc.