LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit the possession, purchase, and sale of “ghost guns” in Los Angeles on Nov. 30.
The ordinance was requested by a motion from Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian, which also passed through the council unanimously.
“There’s no question that ghost guns are an epidemic nationwide, but today we have an obligation to protect the lives of Angelenos, and this is one step that we can take to do all that,” Koretz said before the vote Tuesday.
The ordinance prohibits the possession, purchase, sale, receipt, or transport of a non-serialized unfinished firearm frame or receiver or non-serialized firearm. Such weapons—known as “ghost guns” because they are virtually untraceable—can be assembled by unlicensed buyers from legally purchased kits.
The unfinished parts are inexpensive and not required under federal law to have serial numbers or a background check to purchase. According to the gun control advocacy organization Everytown For Gun Safety, an AR-15 ghost gun kit and lower receiver can be purchased for $345.
Violation of the city ordinance will be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
“We now have an entire industry of manufacturers, the sole purpose of which is to evade background checks, to manufacture a product that will lead to death, destruction, violence across our country with impunity, because those weapons are available without background checks and without the ability to be traced,” Krekorian said.
On Monday, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, both Democrats, sent a letter to Council President Nury Martinez expressing their support of the ordinance.
“This ordinance is an important effort to help keep unserialized and untraceable firearms, known as ‘ghost guns,’ off our streets. Similar initiatives have already been implemented in San Diego and San Francisco, and we commend the Los Angeles City Council for considering a similar measure,” the letter stated.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), in a statement provided to City News Service on Tuesday, said it believes that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to make their own firearms without the permission of the federal government. The amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The NRA added: “Firearms made by individuals are subject to the same rules and regulations as firearms manufactured by a company. It is still illegal for prohibited people to possess them and those in violation are subject to 10 years in prison. People have made their own firearms since before the country was founded and there is no valid reason any law-abiding person should be barred from possessing them.
“If federal, state and local governments are interested in making their communities safer, they should enforce the laws on the books and arrest and prosecute criminals who break the law.”
Ghost guns accounted for more than 40 percent of guns confiscated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and one-third of crime guns recovered by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2020.
On Oct. 19, the LAPD reported to the police commission on the “epidemic” of ghost guns, which department officials say have increased “exponentially over the last year.”
“The current trend shows these figures will continue to grow exponentially,” according to the LAPD report, which notes that 3D printing allows the components to be more accessible.
“‘Ghost guns’ are replacing firearms people would normally purchase, with no background checks required,” according to the report.
Between January and June of this year, 863 ghost guns were recovered, more than the 813 recovered during the entire year of 2020. So far in 2021, 1,445 “ghost guns” have been recovered, a 202 percent increase over last year, according to the LAPD.
“It’s dramatically going up, and it is going to eclipse last year’s totals, potentially by 1,000 plus guns,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher told the police commission on Oct. 19.