Santa Clara County wants to make ghost guns vanish
Homemade firearms recovered in early 2022 by San Jose and Santa Clara County law enforcement from a ghost gun factory in Willow Glen. File photo.

Elected officials are taking steps to outlaw homemade guns in Santa Clara County.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider creating an ordinance to prohibit the possession, manufacturing and assembly of ghost guns.

Elected officials are taking steps to outlaw homemade guns in Santa Clara County.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for the District Attorney’s Office to come up with options for creating an ordinance to prohibit the possession, manufacturing and assembly of ghost guns. The county will report back to the board on April 19.

Ghost guns are homemade firearms without serial numbers, sometimes built from kits or 3D printers. Easy to order online and assemble, and virtually untraceable, these guns have become increasingly popular in violent crimes, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“There’s national research that demonstrates that for many hate crimes, ghost guns are the tools that are being used to frighten, alarm, alert, harm and kill people,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

In February, Rosen’s office announced three people had been arrested for running a ghost gun factory in a house in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. According to the DA, law enforcement recovered more than eight assault rifles, two handguns, firearm parts and three 3D printers.

“In 2015, we recovered four ghost guns in our county. Last year, 293—an exponential increase,” Rosen said during a news conference at the end of February. “These guns are not being made by hobbyists who are making them for fun. These guns are made and sold on the streets to criminals who are using them all acquired in a transaction that is completely without regulation.”

Rosen said San Jose police recently killed a suspected carjacker who fired on them with an unserialized ghost gun.

“They are a problem because you can make them at home, with DIY kits and parts,” San Jose Police Department spokesperson Christian Camarillo told San José Spotlight. “Many prohibited persons, felons for example, are being arrested with ghost guns.”

Citing statistics from the city, Chavez said at the news conference there was a 400% increase between 2020 and 2021 of incidents where minors were arrested in possession of ghost guns.

California state law already makes it a misdemeanor to own an unserialized firearm, and manufacturers of even 3D printed guns must apply for a serial number before completing a gun. A law going into effect in July tightens the requirements for selling certain firearm parts.

Santa Clara County wouldn’t be the first in California to pass a ban on ghost guns. Last year, San Diego County approved an ordinance prohibiting 3D printing of firearms or parts and the possession of ghost guns. San Francisco and Los Angeles also passed similar laws last year.

Supervisor Otto Lee hopes the county will go a little further.

“There’s some proactive action we need to take to make sure (ghost guns) don’t enter our county,” Lee told San José Spotlight prior to the vote. “It’s becoming a real issue in our community, so we really do need to work much closer with our law enforcement agencies to shut down these operations.”

San Jose has also cracked down on firearms over the past year, most recently by becoming the first city in the nation to require gun owners to have liability insurance.

San Jose resident Dave Truslow, a National Rifle Association firearm instructor, told San José Spotlight bans on ghost guns seem to be in vogue across California. He said these ordinances are not effective at reducing gun violence, noting it’s already illegal under state and federal law to transfer or sell an unserialized firearm.

“It will serve absolutely no purpose,” Truslow said. “I’m angered and frustrated because there’s so many things that could be done to improve public safety and reduce violence, and this is just a convenient distraction that is nothing more than virtue signaling.”

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.

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