SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — President Biden's ban on ghost guns could provide a boost for a similar ban the City of San Diego put in place after a downtown shooting in April 2021.
The White House says ghost guns are non-serialized, untraceable weapons privately made from kits. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says 20,000 of these so-called ghost guns were recovered from criminal investigations last year.
One of those crimes — last April's Gaslamp District shooting that injured four and took the life of 28-year-old Justice Bolden. San Diego Police say the alleged shooter used a ghost gun.
"All these cities saw a rise in gun violence, perpetrated by people who can't lawfully own firearms. That's the ghost gun loophole," said San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert.
After the shooting, the city banned the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of non-serialized unfinished frames and receivers, and non-serialized firearms. Now, the White House says it is banning the most accessible ghost guns, such as the non-serialized “buy build shoot” kits. The White House individuals can buy the kits online or at a store without a background check and using home equipment build them into guns in as little as half an hour.
Von Wilpert, who authored the local ordinance, says President Biden's federal ban will make San Diego's law stronger.
"It really applies to all states and all localities," she said. "The biggest seller of unfinished weapon parts into the city is coming from across the boarder in Nevada, from a company called Polymer 80."
But Michael Schwartz, who heads San Diego County Gun Owners PAC, says Biden's move is P.R., and that criminals will act no matter the law. He also added the building a firearm from a kit is much harder than the White House is making it out to be.
"There's really just no evidence that really suggests that hobbyists that are building firearms for their own personal use are contributing to crime statistics," he said.
Under the new rule, the Justice Department will also require federally licensed dealers and gunsmiths to serialize any non-serialized weapon they take in.
San Diego Police say they recovered 545 ghost guns in 2021. That's up from 211 in 2020 and 52 in 2019.