There have been 40 mass shooting events since April 1, including one in San Diego just this past week.
The latest San Diego mass shooting involved an untraceable, homemade firearm known as a "ghost gun."
Mayor Todd Gloria is a member of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns. It calls for a crack down on homemade weapons like so called ghost guns. In addition to being a member of the bi-partisan gun safety advocacy group, during his time in the California legislature, then Assembly member Gloria was instrumental in the passing of two bills aimed at curbing gun sales and carry rights within the county.
His latest action is to audibly applaud President Joe Biden's executive actions tackling an explosion in gun violence that specifically mention ghost guns. Gloria pointed out that the San Diego Police Department seized 210 such homemade weapons last year alone.
“As a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, I thank the President for including specific regulation on ghost guns, which are untraceable, easy to purchase and can be built at home,” Gloria said.
What Are Ghost Guns?
Ghost guns are simply homemade firearms that are built at home and thus untraceable by law enforcement. They are ghosts in the firearm registration universe. Hence, the pejorative nomenclature.
Law enforcement also refers to the unlicensed precursor parts to firearms by this term as well.
For example, a legally purchased official replacement parts insufficient in themselves to constitute a firearm combined with unlicensed homemade parts to complete the gun, under the law, would be a ghost gun.
Why Ghost Guns Present a Clear Danger to Society
Law enforcement and politicians have pointed out that these ghost guns are essentially untraceable. It would be as if your child could assemble the random blocks of Lego in their playroom into a deadly firearm and then give that device to their friend.
That's an extreme example of the argument, but police say that there has been a huge uptick in these types of weapons recovered from crime scenes. San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit told KPBS the county had experienced a 169% increase in these weapons year over year.
It's a problem that is getting worse, not better.
Supporters of Homemade Hobby Firearms Have a Different Perspective
There's nothing out of the ordinary and these types of enthusiast devices pose no more threat than any "standard" firearm.
New regulations on these types of devices is unnecessary, complicated, overreach that will harm enthusiasts and do nothing to deter criminal activity.
Laws are currently on the books that would already make the types of weapons used in the commission of these crimes illegal, and make it illegal for the guns recovered in these cases to be in possession of those using them. In short, laws exist that make the activity illegal already... they just aren't having an impact.
Supporters say policymakers ought to look elsewhere for solutions rather than adding more burden to the lives of law abiding firearm enthusiasts.
Upcoming Legislation in California
San Diego citizens will also benefit from laws passed designed to protect residents and slow down the firearm trade within the state's borders. If the United States Congress doesn't feel the need to act, it looks as though the California State Legislature isn't holding back.
2018 saw California regulate homemade firearms with an application to the CA Department of Justice for a unique serial number for each gun. Essentially a gun's finger print that ties it to who made it. This will allow law enforcement to trace back to the source any homemade gun used in the commission of a crime.
2022 will see a law passed in 2019 designed to regulate the sale of homemade precursor firearm parts go into effect. The law was originally slated to take effect in 2025, but an emergency action was taken last year to speed up the law's implementation.
Up until this law was passed, a gaping loophole existed for potential purchasers of firearms who could not otherwise pass a background check. This new law will close that unregulated market for precursor parts.
No matter what local cities and states do, firearm rights are left largely up to the federal level of government. The 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court is expected to start hearing oral arguments next week for an expansion of 2nd Amendment rights that promises to expand concealed carry ability.
The long term outlook for local curtailment of gun rights in the United States, or San Diego, doesn't appear promising.