The Fight Over San Diego’s Ghost Gun law

ghost gun law

On Wednesday, after gun owners and two pro-gun groups filed a challenge to San Diego’s new Ghost Gun law, a federal appeals court ruled against the lawsuit that sought to stop the law from being enforced. (Fox)

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The Eliminate Non-Serialized Untraceable Firearm Ordinance was signed into law by Mayor Todd Gloria last month, and is slated to go into effect on October 23. The ghost gun law, dubbed E.N.U.F., “bans the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of homemade, personally manufactured firearms without commercial serial numbers.” And the San Diego County Board of Supervisors wants to create a similar ordinance for the whole county. The county board voted 3-2 to proceed with a new law. One they admitted was “adding another layer” to the law because ghost guns are already illegal in California.

ghost gun law
Screenshot of an 80% upper via Outdoor Sports

The new law will have little effect on the spiraling crime in the region. About 20% of the guns police recovered from crime scenes are the so-called ghost guns, and those who possessed them were not legal to possess firearms. San Diego and the County believe they are going to stop the carnage from firearms deaths.

When the council approved the ordinance on Sept. 14, Michael Schwartz, executive director of the San Diego County Gun Owners Association, called the ordinance vague and “ridiculously ineffective.” He said it effectively bans everyone in San Diego, including legal gun owners, from getting parts to build a gun. That, he said, is because there is no process to put serial numbers on unfinished gun parts.

California requires completed firearms to have a serial number. Under current state law, once a person builds a gun, they must apply to the state Department of Justice for a serial number for the firearm.

State lawmakers have also OK’d legislation essentially targeting ghost guns. Starting in July, California will require licensed vendors to handle the sale or transfer of unfinished gun frames, and that includes face-to-face background checks.

San Diego Union-Tribune

Judge Cynthia Bashant in the ruling wrote that the ordinance “does not completely prohibit … the right to possess frames and receivers necessary (to) create one’s own firearm, but rather restricts the self-manufacturing of firearms using unfinished frames and receivers only.” 

The right of individuals to self-manufactured arms for self-defense and other lawful purposes is part and parcel of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and an important front in the battle to secure fundamental rights against abusive government regulations like San Diego’s unconstitutional ban.

Adam Kraut, Firearms Policy Coalition

Whether or not a firearm has a serial number will not stop criminals from obtaining guns. But it will put a huge wrench in the process for the home gunmaker who just likes to put a gun together. As with most gun control laws, the only people actually punished under laws like this are the law-abiding citizens.


Featured screenshot via KGTV and KPBS.

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