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Downtown San Diego. (Photo: City of San Diego website)

U.S. District Court Judge Denies Lawsuit Against San Diego ‘Ghost Gun’ Ban

Local ordinance will go into effect in San Diego Oct. 23rd

By Evan Symon, October 21, 2021 2:38 pm

Judge Cynthia Bashant of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California denied a preliminary injunction to halt the upcoming “ghost gun” ban in the city of San Diego on Wednesday, removing the last hurdle before the ban is to go into effect on Saturday.

The Eliminate Non-serialized Untraceable Firearm, or ENUF, Ordinance, will “prohibit the possession, purchase, sale, receipt, and transportation of non-serialized, unfinished frames and unfinished receivers, and non-serialized firearms within the City of San Diego.” The ordinance was introduced during the summer following an April shooting in San Diego’s Gaslight District that left 1 dead and 3 injured. According to reports, the shooter used a ghost gun, created from multiple parts without serial numbers resulting in a gun that cannot be traced or be put through background checks.

After the City Council passed the ordinance in August, firearms groups and advocates immediately prepared a lawsuit to go forward in case Mayor Todd Gloria signed it into law. Their preparation allowed them to sue the city within hours following Mayor Gloria signing the ordinance September 23rd.

As the ordinance was set to go into effect October 23rd, the plaintiffs, listed in court documents as the Firearms Policy Coalition, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC and San Diego residents James Fahr, Desiree Bergman, and Colin Rudolph, only had a month to halt the action.

“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,” said Firearms Policy Coalition senior director of legal operations Adam Kraut on the challenge last month.

A last chance to block the ordinance in court

Earlier this week, the firearms advocates made a last ditch attempt to stop the ordinance by asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order against it. However, Judge Bashant ruled against it on Wednesday, noting that San Diegans can still purchase serialized weapons and parts to create self-made guns. In addition, the Judge also said that the ordinance was a “reasonable measure” to combat crime in the city.

“The ordinance does not completely prohibit, as plaintiffs suggest, 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 unfinished receivers only,” Judge Bashant wrote. “The ordinance is a reasonable measure for achieving the city’s objectives of decreasing the threat that ghost guns pose to the city’s stated substantial and important interests. In so holding, this court observes that it joins other courts in concluding that broad regulation of non-serialized firearms fit closely with governments’ interests in crime prevention and investigation.”

With no other major action in the way to stop it on Thursday, the new law is due to go into effect on Saturday. While gun control advocates and ordinance supporters are happy to have no more legal challenges against it, those against the ordinance have said that it goes against people’s rights to construct a firearm and may hurt gun owners who want to own spare parts.

“If criminals want those parts, they’ll get them with or without this ordinance,” noted Chet Crawford, who heads a gun club in San Diego County. “All this does is hurt law-abiding citizens who own guns and simply want to make their own. How does this hurt criminals? It’s not going to change anything. Criminals who may have been deterred will just go over to another county or state or even another city in San Diego County to get and make what they need. This isn’t a roadblock against them. It’s them being given detour signs.”

The new ordinance is due to go into effect in San Diego on Saturday.

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Evan Symon
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