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After Gaslamp Quarter shooting, SDPD Chief says 'ghost guns' are up 169% since 2020

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 20:19:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Late Thursday, a gunman opened fire in two separate shootings in the Gaslamp Quarter, killing one person and injuring four people.

Less than 24 hours later, San Diego's Police Chief issued a dire update on the rise of the firearm used the night before: an unserialized gun, or "ghost gun."

According to SDPD Chief David Nisleit, the department has seen a 169% increase in the use of "ghost guns" since 2020. Nisleit added that the increased use of unserialized firearms comes as other crime stats are on the rise this year, after rising in 2020.

"Unfortunately, early statistics for 2021 are showing that we will see an increase again this year," Nisleit said.

RELATED: Gaslamp Quarter shooting witness: Victims had no chance to react

According to Nisleit, this year SDPD has seen:

  • 4% increase in calls from the community
  • 50% increase in shooting investigations for the first two months of this year compared to 2020
  • 169% increase in unserialized, or "ghost guns," from 2020

Nisleit added that the city is close to surpassing last year's number of guns found in the community and that officers are seeing a prevalence of guns.

"Ghost guns" are firearms manufactured without serial numbers and require no background checks for buy. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to trace back to a documented owner.

Just this month, "ghost guns" were also a topic on the national stage. President Joe Biden's recent efforts on gun control included an order for the Justice Department to issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns" within 30 days. Earlier this year, a California legislator also introduced a bill to ban the sale and purchase of firearm precursor parts — also known as "ghost gun" kits — at California gun shows.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, California has already enacted several requirements to curtail the use of unserialized firearms. Some of those requirements include anyone who purchases an unserialized firearm to first apply for a serial number from the state Department of Justice, and engrave or permanently affix that serial number to the firearm within 10 days of manufacturing or assembling it.

California requires anyone who owns an unserialized gun and then applies and administers a serial number to then provide the identity of its owner with the state afterward. These firearms are also for personal use only and cannot be sold or transferred, according to Giffords.

The state also prohibits individuals or companies from knowingly providing an unserialized firearm to someone banned from owning a firearm under state law, Giffords adds.

"Over the next several weeks, citizens and patrons of the Gaslamp area will see an increased presence of San Diego Police officers," Nislet said during a press conference on Friday. "We want residents and businesses to know they are safe in our community so we will be out there proactively working to stop any events like this before they happen."