Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Gun rights group says state ghost gun bill will face legal challenges

A handgun sits on a table inside a San Diego County gun shop, Sept. 5, 2018.
Roland Lizarondo
A handgun sits on a table inside a San Diego County gun shop, Sept. 5, 2018.

Assembly Bill 311 would make it illegal to sell ghost gun kits and parts at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

"We heard from law enforcement that just in a couple of years as much as one third of those guns illegally held and recovered locally are ghost guns," said Assemblyman Chris Ward, who wrote the bill which has already been approved by the State Assembly.

Ghost gun parts don’t have serial numbers, are untraceable and are used to make or assemble guns. They are not registered, and buying them does not require a background check.


"The potential that they would be afforded to be used at the Del Mar Fairgrounds or state lands like the Del Mar Fairgrounds, that’s unacceptable," said Ward.

RELATED: Court upholds California ban on high-capacity magazines

He also said the bill initially banned the sale of ghost gun parts and kits on all state lands, but said it became clear it would be too costly and tough to enforce. Instead of scrapping it all together, he amended it. Ward notes the city and county of San Diego have passed their own ghost gun laws, "But that would leave a doughnut hole with the Del Mar Fairgrounds because those are state lands."

"This all feels very much like political theatre by people that have already proven to be anti-gun zealots," said Michael Schwartz. He's the executive director of the San Diego Gun Owners PAC.

"We wish that he would go after criminals rather than those that are trying to abide by and follow the law," he said, adding that his group is against anyone using guns in any illegal way, especially in violent crimes.


Schwartz said ghost gun sales are already illegal and this this law targets a minority of gun enthusiasts. "Folks that are home manufacturing firearms shouldn’t be targeted by the government for doing something that is not hurting anybody that is not intended to break a law … the rights of the minority are still rights," he said.

Gun rights group says state ghost gun bill will face legal challenges

Ward said this legislation is about protecting the community. "The use of ghost guns is on the rise," he said. "We need to make sure that the community, the law abiding community, is directed toward legal points of sale and the processes of registration and the ability to track these so that they are not continuing to proliferate and cause harm into our communities."

Schwartz said if AB311 passes, it will be tied up in litigation just like a similar law that passed in San Diego. "I can guarantee there will be lawsuits," he said with a chuckle.

The bill still has to be approved by the state senate and signed by the governor to become state law.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.