SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Todd Gloria signed an ordinance Thursday authored by City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert officially banning firearms without individual serial numbers -- so-called "ghost guns" -- in the city in an attempt to address increasing gun violence.
"San Diego has seen a dramatic increase in gun violence across our city using ghost guns," Gloria said. "These guns are untraceable and can end up in the hands of people prohibited from having firearms, making them a threat to public safety.
"Addressing the proliferation of ghost guns aligns with my commitment to have San Diego lead on gun violence prevention," he said.
The ordinance, known as Eliminate Non-serialized Untraceable Firearm Ordinance, prohibits the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of non-serialized, unfinished frames and receivers, and non-serialized firearms, all of which are commonly known as ghost guns.
"Thank you to Mayor Gloria for standing with me to protect our communities from gun violence by signing the ENUF Ordinance into law for the city of San Diego," von Wilpert said. "The spread of untraceable `ghost guns' is fueling gun violence in our city and I thank the mayor for his commitment to keep firearms out of the hands of people who pose danger to our communities."
The guns, also known as "do-it-yourself guns," are homemade, personally manufactured firearms that do not have commercial serial numbers. They are untraceable due to the lack of identifying markings and therefore can evade state and federal regulations that apply to firearms such as background checks.
These gun kits are sold by manufacturers, secondary retailers and websites, and there are numerous websites and videos online that explain how to complete the assembly process with minimal effort.
The ordinance was introduced after an April 22 shooting that killed a man outside a hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, in which a ghost gun was used. The suspect, a convicted felon prohibited from owning firearms, also allegedly shot and wounded several other people nearby before being tackled by bystanders and arrested.
In 2020, San Diego saw a 169% increase in the number of ghost guns retrieved and impounded compared to the previous year. This year, San Diego has already surpassed the number of ghost guns impounded in all of 2019 and 2020, with the expected number of ghost guns recovered by the San Diego Police Department to double by the end of this year. The vast majority of ghost guns recovered by SDPD are seized from people who cannot pass state or federal background checks because of a criminal conviction involving a felony, violent misdemeanor and from persons who are prohibited due to mental illness.
According to a SDPD report, gang-related violent crime increased in the first six months of 2021, including a 129% jump in gang-related shootings when compared to the same period last year, which saw a significant drop in most violent crime due to COVID-19-related lockdowns.
"The increased violence our communities are experiencing is cause for new measures to address it," Police Chief David Nisleit said before the City Council first heard the ordinance in August.
"Our Violence Reduction Plan and new Ghost Gun Team will combine proactive policing with special investigations to use knowledge and expertise to find those who are causing this violence and stop it before it happens," he said. "Every San Diegan deserves to feel safe, and we believe these efforts will help us in reaching that goal."
Nearly 20% of weapons seized as part of criminal investigations during the first half of the year were ghost guns, police said.
With the mayor's signature, the E.N.U.F. Ordinance will go into effect on Oct. 23.