San Diego City Council Passes "Ghost Gun" Ordinance To Crack Down On Gun Violence
The San Diego City Council Monday passed an ordinance intended to crack down on firearms without individual serial numbers — so called "ghost guns" — and work to combat their proliferation on the streets.
The Eliminate Non-Serialized Untraceable Firearm ordinance, which was approved on an 8-1 vote, is intended to ban ghost guns, by making it illegal to sell unregistered gun kits in San Diego online or in stores.
The ordinance was introduce 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 shot and wounded several other people nearby before being tackled by bystanders and arrested.
"April's deadly shooting in the Gaslamp Quarter was a wakeup call about the growing dangers of ghost guns," said council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn, who represents the Third District that includes the Gaslamp.
"We can't allow criminals to have such easy access to these lethal weapons," he said. "Amid rising crime nationwide, I'm proud that San Diego is protecting public safety by cracking down on ghost guns."
According to a San Diego Police Department 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. "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. 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, which are unregistered and untraceable since they were obtained illegally or with kits that require assembly.
SDPD said the majority of these guns are found in the hands of felons, drug dealers, gang members, and people prohibited from purchasing a gun.
This is why councilman Chris Cate voted no on the ordinance, in a stand alone vote.
He said the new law would not prohibit criminals from continuing to break the law.
“It is completely unreasonable to believe they will follow this new law, this law does nothing to prevent mass shootings, this law does nothing to hold criminals accountable, this law does nothing to make us safer,” Cate said.
However, Gun Violence advocates like Stephan Abrams with Team ENOUGH, hope this new law will prevent more deaths.
“I’ve lost friends to gun violence and I’ve seen and hugged too many mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence,” Abrams said.