California unanimously passes new committee bill in San Francisco to ban the sale of phantom weapons
A new bill to ban the sale of ghost weapons in San Francisco was passed unanimously in a committee hearing on Thursday and will go to the supervisory board for a full vote. Ghost pistols are homemade firearms often purchased online without a serial number.
“There is a huge gap in California,” said San Francisco supervisor Catherine Stefani, who drafted the bill. “It’s very scary.”
Currently, California law allows sellers to sell concealed ghost weapon kits without a serial number on the basis that the buyer will obtain a serial number from the Department of Justice within ten days of assembly.
“As you can imagine, no one does that,” Stefani said.
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The San Francisco Police Department’s Crime Guns Investigations Center explained during Thursday’s hearing that most gun sellers do not necessarily notify buyers of these requirements.
“This means there is no background check, no waiting period, no sales record and no age restrictions at the time of sale,” Stefani said. “We need this to stop.”
SFPD told the ABC7 I-Team that phantom weapons are “flourishing” in San Francisco.
“There is a big increase in the use of ghost guns in homicides in San Francisco,” said Ellen Ginsberg, a local volunteer from Mom’s Demand Action. “What can the police do when they arrive at a crime scene with an unserialized firearm, that stops the investigation there.”
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According to SFPD data, seizures of phantom weapons have more than doubled, from 77 in 2019 to 164 in 2020. Authorities say the rate reported so far this year is on track to exceed that figure.
The rise has also been seen statewide in recent years. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 30% of all firearms seized in California in 2019 were phantom weapons. The California Bureau of Firearms said it seized 512% more phantom weapons in 2019 than in 2018.
“We have tough gun laws in California for a reason, so we can ban people who shouldn’t have guns from having them,” Stefani said.
The bill will go to a full vote in September.
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