By David M. Greenwald
Woodland, CA – Last fall I attended a press conference with AG Rob Bonta and San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin. At this press conference one of the investigators got up there and showed just how easy it was to transport and then assemble a ghost gun into a weapon that was ready to use and ready to kill. They also demonstrated just how difficult it was to track and monitor their distribution.
Ghost guns are a real problem which is why the AG and DA at that time announced a lawsuit aimed at unlicensed manufacturers – this started back in August of 2021 when the an Francisco District Attorney’s Office, joined by Giffords and Keker, Van Nest, and Peters, LLP, filed a suit against Glockstore, Blackhawk, and MDX Performance which was joined by the G two months later.
“Fifteen minutes,” Bonta said. “That is as little as it can take to put together.”
“We’re talking about a ghost gun kit, 15 minutes, and you have a lethal weapon and that’s all it can take—right now across the nation and across California ghost gun kits are being purchased, sent in the mail or even scheduled for in-store pickup.”
Bonta continued, “These weapons have been used in mass shootings. Criminals have used them to murder innocent children in our classrooms. They have been linked to serious crimes here in San Francisco and across the nation in America that have ghost gun problem on hand and taking action in response to that problem.”
According to information provided by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the kits generally contain unfinished frames and receivers, and can be used to assemble a fully functional weapon in as little as 15 minutes and “these untraceable firearms have been used in multiple tragedies in California.”
This week I was reading a letter in the local paper supporting the re-election of Jeff Reisig by Retired Sgt Dean Nyland, he wrote, “While being a leader in the state in taking “Ghost Guns” off the street, a huge public safety issue.”
That was the first I had heard of Jeff Reisig being involved in ghost guns. I did a quick search on the DA’s website (yoloda.org) and there is not one mention of ghost guns, not one press release about it.
I did find a single article on Fox40 from April 2 – nearly eight months after Chesa Boudin first announced his lawsuit against ghost gun manufacturers.
It reports, “Northern California district attorneys are working to remove the threat of illegally manufactured guns.”
“California is actually leading the nation in pulling these ghost guns off the street. They’re everywhere,” Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig told FOX40.
He added, “Ghost guns, or what we like to call privately-manufactured firearms. There were many and they’re dangerous and scary weapons… They’re untraceable. They’re untrackable. There’s no way for law enforcement or anybody to know who has them and where they’re being used. And that’s what’s most dangerous about them. And they’re showing up in violent gang crimes all along across the region. And also, unfortunately, in some really tragic domestic violence cases.”
Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert, coincidentally running against Bonta for AG also jumped on board.
“The number of Illegal guns, including ghost guns, on the streets of our communities is alarming. We must aggressively investigate, prosecute and hold accountable felons and others who are illegally making these guns and flooding our streets with these dangerous weapons,” said Schubert.
Not surprisingly however, this is the only mention of either of them with respect to ghost guns.
This week, the Biden Administration announced a crack down on ghost guns. Biden announced that “the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a final rule to rein in the proliferation of “ghost guns” – unserialized, privately-made firearms that law enforcement are increasingly recovering at crime scenes in cities across the country.”
The White House said, “Last year alone, there were approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations – a ten-fold increase from 2016.”
They added, “Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on other firearms, law enforcement has an exceedingly difficult time tracing a ghost gun found at a crime scene back to an individual purchaser.”
The new executive order “bans the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns, such as unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that individuals can buy online or at a store without a background check and can readily assemble into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes with equipment they have at home.”
Bonta this week announced that he backed the new ATF ruling.
“Do-it-yourself ghost gun kits allow anyone with a credit card and an internet connection to purchase and build a fully operable, untraceable weapon,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “Without effective oversight, the availability of ghost guns, unfinished frames, and receivers allows dangerous individuals to access firearms under the radar of law enforcement. They are a clear and present danger to public safety. Here in California, we have been at the forefront of the fight against ghost guns and we are pleased to see this new rule, which will bring federal law up to speed. Together, we can better monitor ghost guns and increase public safety in California and across our nation.”
One of the problem was a Trump-era rule that so-called “80%” frames and receivers were not considered firearms under the federal Gun Control Act. That allowed ghost guns to escape regulation.
Of course leading the way on this issue is not Jeff Reisig, but people like Chesa Boudin and Rob Bonta who were eight months out in front of this issue.
“Our lawsuit alleges that Blackhawk and MDX and Glockstore are breaking the law first that they are evading the assembly of firearms law,” Boudin said in October, which requires those who purchase the frame and kit to “apply to the California Department of Justice for a serial number and a background check.”
He said he hopes that this will “help raise awareness about a true epidemic of gun violence in our communities, and about the important work we are doing as a team to fight back. As the attorney general said this pressing issue requires all of our best efforts. It requires all of our collaboration and teamwork to succeed, to save lives.”
Boudin warned, “In 2020 ghost guns were associated with nearly 70 percent of gun-related homicides. We’ve seen a several thousand percent increase in just five years in the number of ghost guns that are being seized by police officers in this city.”