by Photo courtesy of FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Untraceable “ghost guns” are banned in San Diego County after the Board of Supervisors formally adopted an ordinance on Tuesday that prohibits their distribution, creation, and calls for safe firearm storage. 

Ghost guns are unregulated firearms that lack serial numbers by which they can be identified and are typically assembled from purchased or homemade components. Minors and those prohibited from owning firearms may purchase such a weapon without a background check. 

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas supported the measure, while their colleagues Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond were opposed. During a Jan. 11 meeting, supervisors voted 3-2 to consider adopting the ordinance, and Tuesday's actions were a part of a second part reading. 

Through this ordinance, the county will update definitions regarding firearms to include unserialized ghost guns and parts; prohibit the possession or distribution of parts without serial numbers; prohibit 3D printing of firearms or parts; and require the safe storage of firearms within a residence or accessory structure.

The ordinance includes parts of ghost guns in the definition and prohibitions “because the gun parts are designed to be easily assembled and can quickly become as dangerous as a completed gun,” according to a statement from Fletcher’s office. 

The board directed the county's Chief Administrative Officer, Helen Robbins-Meyer to draft the ordinance last October. 

Those in favor of the ordinance argued it reduces gun violence, while those opposed argued it violates the Second Amendment. 

Rose Ann Sharp, of gun-safety group NeverAgainCA, said the “ordinance is not taking away the right to have a hobby,” and is “smart, supply-side regulation,” as it puts the burdens on gun manufacturers.

Fletcher said it’s fair for people to disagree with the ordinance, and appreciates law-abiding hobbyists. 

“No one action we take is gonna satisfy (everyone) or solve everything,” Fletcher said.

Supervisors will also receive an annual report, based on a suggestion from Desmond, on the impact of gun violence within the county.

This ordinance comes amid law enforcement concerns over the increasing numbers of ghost guns.

The Chula Vista Police Department has a dashboard tracking Ghost Gun seizures. As of Jan.19, 2022, there have been four recovered ghost guns. In 2021, the CVPD recovered 84 ghost guns, and a total of 143 have been recovered since 2018. 

In September 2021, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed the “Eliminate Non-serialized Untraceable Firearm Ordinance that went into effect on Oct.14. Introduced by Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, the ordinance prohibits the possession, purchase, sale, receipt, and transportation of non-serialized, unfinished frames, unfinished receivers, and non-serialized firearms within the City of San Diego. 

According to a San Diego Police Department report, gang-related violent crime increased in the first six months of 2021, including a 129 percent jump in gang-related shootings compared to the same period last year, which saw a significant drop in most violent crime due to COVID-19-related lockdowns.

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