The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban ghost guns in a sweeping new city ordinance on Tuesday.
Ghost guns, which are unfinished firearms that can be built from different parts to allow buyers to get around background checks and trackable serial numbers, have been a major target for banning within the state throughout the year. At the state level, AB 1057, a ghost gun redefinition bill aimed at reducing the number of available ghost gun parts, was passed and signed in October. Ordinances at the city level banning ghost guns had also been passed earlier this year across the state, including by the San Diego City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a few months ago in December.
In Los Angeles, the fight to ban ghost guns has been in the works since August. That month, city Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian pushed forward an ordinance banning ghost guns in the city due to a rise in shootings and other gun-related crimes that both Councilmen said stemmed partially from the legality of ghost guns.
“We requested this ordinance in August following an increase in shootings, gun-related homicides, and a surge in the number of ghost guns marketed to those who are unable to purchase firearms legally,” said Councilman Koretz in November. “Ghost guns are exempt from laws requiring background checks and waiting periods because they are sold as unassembled kits.”
Councilman Krekorian added that month in another statement that “One of the most successful strategies this nation has adopted to reduce gun violence is background checks. Background checks work. And yet, we now have an entire industry of manufacturers, the sole purpose of which is to evade background checks.”
The ordinance received a growing amount of support throughout the fall while the ordinance was being discussed in City Hall. An October Los Angeles Police Commission report found that the number of ghost guns confiscated by the LAPD had jumped up by 400% since 2017. During the first 11 months of 2021, the department had seen an even larger rise compared to previous year, skyrocketing up to 1,780 being confiscated so far this year compared to only 813 taken in 2020.The LAPD specifically noted in the report that ghost guns are “an epidemic not only in Los Angeles but nationwide.”
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-CA) also backed the ghost gun ordinance last month in a joint letter.
“We write in support of Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian’s ordinance to prohibit ghost guns in Los Angeles,” wrote the Senators in November. “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.”
A ghost gun ban in LA
With favorable statistics and now national, state, and local support, the ordinance easily passed the City Council on Tuesday. Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the ordinance soon.
Once signed, the ordinance will ban the possession, sale, purchase, receipt or transportation of firearms and firearm parts without serial numbers. Violators of the ordinance will face up to six months in jail, with fines going as high as $1,000 for each violation.
“These guns should have no place in Los Angeles and have already wreaked havoc on our streets,” stated Councilman Koretz following the passage of the ordinance on Tuesday.
While the bill was passed unanimously and held up by strong LAPD statistics, many noted on Wednesday that the bill would do little to stop gun violence in the city.
“It’s a good intention, but those parts can be easily bought in surrounding cities and counties,” Erin Matthews, a SoCal firearms policy researcher, told the Globe Wednesday. “If people want handguns they can get them. I mean, that’s why they added the ‘transportation’ bit to the ordinance, but it’s not really enough to deter people away. It is an added hindrance for some criminals, another added step so to speak. But a lot more is needed for any real change, and just going after guns isn’t a winning solution.”
LAPD Chief Michel Moore also noted that he didn’t think the ban would solve the gun violence issue in LA, adding, “This is a feeder system to that problem. And much like automobile safety, it is accomplished through a series of progressive steps.”
The ordinance is expected to come into law as soon as Mayor Garcetti signs the ordinance in the coming days.