Why are Ghost Guns an Increasing Problem?

Why are Ghost Guns an Increasing Problem?

In California, it’s legal to purchase the various parts of the gun and put it together at home. The result is called a ghost gun. However, California law also requires you to register that gun and get a serial number for it. The problem is that this is hard to enforce. As you can imagine, this is becoming a problem in California, as well as other locations across the country.

What is a ghost gun?

So, the question is, what exactly is a ghost gun? It’s basically a homemade gun, assembled from parts taken from other guns. Once complete, the gun does not have a serial number or any other marks to identify it. The term “ghost gun” is used by many people in the industry, including law enforcement, gun dealers, advocates of gun rights, and gun control activists. 

By putting the gun together, users can bypass the traditional ownership laws in California, including background checks. United States federal law permits the creating and owning ghost guns, but they must be marked or have a serial number before they can be sold. Some states have laws that restrict the ownership and creation of ghost guns. 

Ghost guns in California

According to estimates from law enforcement, one in three guns seized in the state is without a serial number. California police captain, Paul Espinosa, reports that ghost guns started appearing in the state in 2013. A ghost gun was used to kill a state trooper and other ghost guns have been involved in a variety of other crimes in California, including domestic violence crimes, robberies, and murders. The 2013 shooting at Santa Monica College was carried out with a ghost gun, assembled at home by the shooter. 

Why are they a problem?

When a crime is committed involving a gun, the serial number on the gun used can help police and other law enforcement identify the possible suspect. When a gun is manufactured at home and does not have a serial number, tracking it is nearly impossible. That means many crimes may go unsolved because there’s no way to find the weapon used by the shooter. 

Individuals who fail a background check for purchasing a gun can get around these laws by making a ghost gun, which means they may still be committing crimes they otherwise could have been stopped from when the background check was denied. 

Not only are ghost guns creating problems for law enforcement when it comes to solving crimes, but it could be putting more people at risk of becoming a victim. When a shooter is confident that his weapon can’t be tracked, he may be more reckless when using it, creating tragedies that could have been avoided. 

Finally, the ease at which it is to get a ghost gun is creating problems as well. Because it’s legal to buy the parts and put the gun together at home, potential criminals will find that it’s simple to acquire a weapon they’ve otherwise been denied. Making it this easy is part of the reason why ghost guns are on the rise in California and why they are likely to continue being used to carry out crimes. 

Regulating ghost guns

There have been many policies and regulations proposed as a way to regulate ghost guns in California. They include having buyers pass a background check to purchase gun parts as well as only allowing licensed dealers to sell these parts. The problem is keeping track of so many parts and their buyers and sellers. What was once something for gun hobbyists has become a “legal” way to own guns for criminal reasons. 

How do I turn in, sell or store my firearms?

Wanting to abide by the laws in California is important for any gun owner and if you feel that you may have a ghost gun and want to relinquish it, you should contact your local police for the steps required. This is true if you have other charges against you and want to keep from getting another one – you can find forms for gun violence and prevention online

If you own a ghost gun, it’s vital to register it through the proper channels and keep it safely locked up when not in use. If you want to sell a gun, contact a licensed firearm dealer to do so legally. 

While ghost guns are bound to continue being a problem in California, the mere knowledge that they exist and how to assemble one can help authorities crack down on the issue. California has quite strong gun control laws and it may be that they have to crack down and tighten those regulations to keep people safe. As a responsible citizen, you can let the police know if you suspect that you know where a ghost gun is being used so that it can be confiscated before a tragedy occurs. 


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