San Jose becomes the latest city to ban ghost weapons

San Jose bans ghost guns — untraceable firearms that have increasingly been found at Santa Clara County crime scenes over the past six years.

The ban is the latest attempt by city leaders to reduce gun violence in the country’s tenth-largest city.

While the federal government and California passed recent legislation on ghost guns — which can be easily purchased online without background checks, built at home, and without serial numbers — there are currently no federal or state laws. which deals with the possession of phantom weapons.

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to make it illegal to possess, manufacture, sell or transfer ghost guns or their parts. San Jose’s law, which will give ghost gun owners 120 days to request a serial number from the California Department of Justice, follows the lead of other cities like Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. .

“While the new federal regulations help stem the rising tide of ghost guns on the shoreline, they don’t allow us to do much about the sea of ​​guns that are already out there,” the mayor said. Sam Liccardo at this news agency.

In 2020, the San Jose Police Department recovered 206 firearms without serial numbers, up from 75 in 2017, according to City Hall.

The ghost gun ban is just one of many steps San Jose has taken in recent years to regulate guns. The actions come in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in Bay Area history, when a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee shot and killed nine of his co-workers and then himself at a train station triage in May 2021.

Less than a month later, San Jose passed a law requiring retailers to videotape all gun purchases to prevent buying straw, which happens when someone buys a gun. for someone who is not allowed to own a firearm.

And in January, San Jose became the first city in the nation to require gun owners to carry liability insurance for their guns. The law will take effect in August and will also require gun owners to pay an annual fee to a nonprofit that will distribute the funds to groups offering suicide prevention programs and mental health services.

The law is already facing legal challenges from several groups, including the National Association for Gun Rights, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.

This week, the Silicon Valley Public Accountability Foundation took aim at banning ghost weapons. In a May 6 letter to the city, the nonprofit argued that it “will not arrest any criminal who wishes to break the law” and takes away “the constitutionally protected rights of individuals to manufacture their own weapons at fire in a legal manner”.

Liccardo, who came up with the gun insurance warrant nearly three years ago following a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, told this news agency that “no law prevents criminals to have firearms on the streets unless it is effectively enforced”.

“Since we know that there is a very strong correlation between the possession of phantom weapons and criminal organizations,” he said, “this would be a law that is absolutely worth enforcing.”

Earlier this year, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office indicted three people for turning a Willow Glen home into a ghost gun-making operation.

At the time, prosecutors said the three produced AK and AR-style assault rifles to order and used kits, custom tools and 3D printing to make the weapons.

In March, San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata announced a new program that offers cash rewards for information that helps police seize ghost weapons. Of the 1,108 firearms seized by the SJPD in the previous 14 months, 287 were ghost weapons.

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