Gun violence has plagued the United States this year. KTB is here to discuss the increasing trend of unserialized, untraceable, and unregulated ghost guns that have been circulating our streets and legislature that has been recently passed to keep our community safe.
The Emergence of Ghost Guns
The increasing popularity of unserialized, untraceable, and unregulated “ghost guns” is proving to be yet another hurdle for a nation faced with a major gun crisis. In 2022 alone, there have already been 356 mass shootings in the United States. The number of ghost guns recovered at crime scenes nationwide has also exponentially increased from 1,758 in 2016 to 19,344 in 2021. In California, ghost guns seized by law enforcement officials has increased from 26 in 2015, to 12,388 in 2021. One such crime involving a ghost gun included a Sacramento shooting in February of this year, where a father murdered his two children with an AR-15 style ghost gun, even though he had a restraining order against him.
What are Ghost Guns?
Ghost guns further complicate efforts to ensure that firearms are kept out of the wrong hands. Ghost guns are unregulated and easy to assemble. Federal law sets serialization, background check, and other safeguards to control the distribution of firearms. Yet, ghost gun manufacturers have sidestepped these regulations by arguing that their kits do not classify as fully complete frames or weapons.
This means that nearly anyone, including minors, felons, and other unauthorized gun purchasers under federal law can now purchase these kits online and then assemble these ghost gun kits into fully functional firearms within as little as 30 minutes.
As many law enforcement officials have pointed out though, the differences between a fully assembled firearm and a ghost gun are trivial. One needs to only drill a few holes and shave a small amount of plastic to transform these ghost gun kits into fully functional assault weapons, without even needing to go through any background check whatsoever. Gun manufacturers have even pointed out the ghost guns’ lack of serialization, background checks, and quick assembly as key selling points for kit consumers.
Holding Gun Manufacturers Responsible
Over the past month, Governor Newsom has signed over 10 gun restriction laws into effect to combat the public safety threats posed by increased acts of gun violence. California’s Firearm Industry Responsibility Act (“FIRA”) went into effect on July 12, 2022. FIRA creates an industry standard for firearm manufacturers by requiring them to take reasonable actions and precautions to refrain from selling firearms to unauthorized purchasers. FIRA applies to both fully assembled firearms and “ghost gun” kits. Firearm industry members must also adhere to California’s unfair competition, deceptive acts or practices, and false advertising laws. Other recent laws include AB No. 1621 and 2571, which set firearm serialization requirements and prohibit firearms from being marketed to minors.
California’s SB No. 1327 was signed by Governor Newsom on July 22, 2022, and is modeled after Texas’s law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists with or performs an abortion. The bill is expected to take effect in January 2023 and will allow California residents to sue anyone who illegally distributes illegal semi-automatic weapons, including unserialized ghost gun kits, or sells weapons to individuals under age 21.
If you would like to learn more about California’s new and upcoming gun restriction laws, please visit the following website: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2022/07/21/governor-newsom-signs-new-measures-to-protect-californians-from-gun-violence/