Gibson: California Has a ‘Ghost Gun’ Problem And It’s Only Going to Get Worse

Ghost Guns

(Office of Attorney General of New Jersey via AP)

The quote of the day is presented by

No national consensus exists on how [ghost guns] should be regulated. New York and several other Northeastern states have simply outlawed their sale or purchase. California recently enacted Assembly Bill 879, which tries to balance concern over the potential criminal use of ghost guns with the legitimate interest of hobbyists. California’s new ghost gun law treats ghost gun kits more like actual firearms. Parts can be bought only through licensed dealers in face-to-face transactions. Parts bought over the internet must be shipped to a licensed dealer to close the deal, and sales between private parties must also go through a licensed dealer. A purchaser must be at least 21 years of age and pass a state background check.

However, parts of the law won’t take effect for years. Dealers who sell precursor parts will not even need licenses until July 2024. And background checks for individual purchasers of precursor parts will not go into effect until July 2025. Even after the law goes into effect, preexisting guns without serial numbers will remain hard to trace. And some new guns made from parts will likewise be difficult to trace. Not everyone will apply for a serial number even though it’s legally required. The people who buy a given model of precursor part but who do not call and get a serial number can be identified, but it will still take time to trace a particular gun.

AB 879 is a good first step, but it must be regarded as only a starting point. We will need additional legislation, and before we do anything, we need better numbers. Federal and state agencies should regularly disclose what data they possess about ghost guns so that policy can be better tailored to address the problem. Once we generate better estimates about the scope of the ghost gun problem, then we can determine what to do next.

– James William Gibson in California is flooded with ‘ghost’ guns, and a new state law won’t fix it 300x250-v2


  1. avatar DDay says:

    Where there is a will, there is a way.

    Write any BS gun control law you want and people will go around it. You cannot stop what cannot be stopped.

    1. avatar Omer says:

      Exactly. What’s worse? Having a weapon or using the weapon for assault or murder? Is anyone really concerned about someone possessing an item or the harm that can be done with the item? If committing an act of harm is already illegal then what does it matter about the way the harm was committed? Why not swiftly and justly punish the acts of violence instead of the possession of items that MAY be used for violence OR sport, hobby, or protection?

      1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

        “Is anyone really concerned about someone possessing an item…”

        Apparently, yes. although I can’t completely fathom why? Hoplophobes?

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:


      Help me out here. Am I understanding this correctly? A pro-gun source published a piece that includes the opinion that “AB 879 is a good first step,…”?

      Huh? The entire law is bogus and unconstitutional. A few years from now, unless the law is overturned, we’ll need to undergo a background check and registration just to buy a replacement trigger, upgraded barrel, or such. And what about our 200+ year recognized right to create our own implements of defense? The article above notes that “Not everyone will apply for a serial number even though it’s legally required.” Ya think?

      I personally know multiple people who FUDDed out and registered everything they have so as to avoid any issues with the CADOJ and its unconstitutional actions. However, I also know multiple people who have done the opposite, and keep their home-built guns under the radar and out of the CADOJ’s watchful eye, and will not comply.

      The more CA acts in this manner, the more people are finally “having enough” of it and toeing the line, saying they “will not comply”. These are not just words I’m typing…I’m personally seeing it happen, and some of them are LEOs who are becoming disenchanted with the direction the State is moving. There is a legitimate movement happening here.

      1. avatar Jonathan Long says:

        this is pretty much spot on, I know of an individual who after bump stocks were banned expressed to me that ” I may as well build a full auto one now since just having this bump stock is the same thing”. Knowing him he will do it, there comes a point to where people simply don’t follow the law anymore. Its the same reason why tax laws are more frequently broken when taxes are high as opposed to when the tax rate is sensible. People will only take so much.

      2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        “Help me out here. Am I understanding this correctly? A pro-gun source published a piece that includes the opinion that “AB 879 is a good first step,…”?”

        No, that was an article from quoting the ‘LA Times’ :

        Calm down, Haz… 🙂

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Okay, thx for the clarification, though Dan’s article above is simply a cut-and-paste from the article itself, with no explanation that it’s from yet another source. At first pass, it looks to me like the text came from

      3. avatar tmm says:

        Haz..saw your reply acknowledging Geoff’s response. If I may add my two cents, you may see quoted blocks of text indicated with a vertical line on the left side, which is easier to see if contained in a larger body of normal text. Can be easy enough to miss on that occasional short article (like “Quote of the day”) where the bulk of the article is the quote. 🙂

    3. avatar Michael says:

      This is an Open Invitation to stop the Bill.Period.In NV AB291 is all ready in contention in NV to fail,as It Violates Open carry law Constitution.It is a big lie and was disguised s an Emergency Bump Stock Ban Lie.It is NV’s Red Flag LAw.{Problem is the Stupid Democrats moving their field CAl;0-(if Agenda across our country Led by the Loser) LGBTQ Commies.

  2. avatar Huntmaster says:

    Victimless crimes.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      The irony: firearm owners become actual victims of the State.

  3. avatar Casper says:


  4. avatar Baldwin says:

    Commiefornia has a ghost gun problem…and a non-ghost-gun problem…and a big-government problem…and a privileged elite problem…and …

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Commiefornia is a literal burning dumpster fire. I can’t help but sit back and laugh as they desperately try to remain relevant in a 21st century economy.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        Cali remains very relevant, since half the fvcking country thinks Cali is the way the rest of the US should be run. You can’t ignore what 50 percent of the population (wrongly) believes.

        What ought to worry you is this, (from the source article) :

        “They are also purchased by hobbyists and gun collectors who like building things and by 2nd Amendment advocates who want to uphold what they believe is their constitutional right to own firearms without serial numbers or paper trails.”

        How *dare* those peons think they have gun rights!

      2. avatar TonyL says:

        I think you have a false sense of security, or maybe just not bright enough to recognize the big picture? The goal is to impoverish all the states, CA is the model the rest will follow….as keyboard warriors sit back and laugh at their own demise.

      3. avatar Mad Max says:

        Except that the rats are fleeing Commiefornia and invading the free States.

  5. avatar R. Corrino says:

    The question is, what exactly is the problem? Is it that “ghost guns” are being used to commit a majority of crimes (not so) or that government is having a hard time tracking who has what gun and how many? If it is the former then yes, something must be done. If it is the latter then why is the government’s problem suddenly results in the further infringement of our rights?

    Again, this is a solution in search of a problem that is creating said problems for law abiding citizens

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      R. Corrino,

      The question is, what exactly is the problem?

      The article tells us the answer:

      California … Assembly Bill 879 … tries to balance concern over the potential criminal use of ghost guns with the legitimate interest of hobbyists. (Emphasis mine)

      The problem is that California government prioritizes feelings (“concern”) above the rights (“legitimate interest”) of innocent people who have not interfered with anyone else’s rights.

      Such a system is heinous and wrong. That very same system could require women to be defenseless and incredibly vulnerable to rape in exchange for making many people feel better about being in public. Oh wait, California already does exactly that! I never cease to be amazed that more than half the population of California are totally okay condemning their women to rape. What does that tell us?

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      R. Corrino,

      By the way, it would not matter even if criminals used ghost guns in a majority of crimes. Suppose criminals filled socks with rocks and severely beat or murdered 2 million people every year. Should government do something about socks? Should government institute mandatory background checks before anyone can purchase socks? Should government require that every pair of socks have a serial number and that people register all of their serialized socks with government?

      Criminals can use/adapt quite literally anything and everything to attack people and cause significant injuries/death. (For example criminals have even used simple fluffy pillows to suffocate and murder their victims.) Efforts that we expend on “weapon control” are an endless and fruitless game of “wack-a-mole”. Instead, we should focus on being able to incapacitate criminals when they attack, regardless of what objects criminals decide to use/adapt to attack us.

      1. avatar JW says:

        Socks hurt no one and have many legitimate uses (protecting golf clubs, making puppets, padding bras/briefs). It is the dangerous rocks that we need to get off the street.

        Ban rocks. Do it for the children.

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          “Socks hurt no one…”

          Tell ya what – I’ll peel mine off at the end of a long and sweaty day and dangle them in front of your nose and you tell me how ‘harmless’ they are… 🙂

        2. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

          It is inconceivable to me in the year 2019 we as civilized humans haven’t banned rocks. We’ve had since Cain killed Abel to sort this out and we have still done nothing! #common_sense_rock_control.

  6. avatar Dude says:

    How often are these used in crimes? Does he ever prove that these are a problem?

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Ghost guns are sometimes accused of crimes but when captured they inevitably turn out to be regular guns with sheets over their heads. When hauled off to jail they usually mumble something about how they ‘would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for them meddling kids’…

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Governor Le Petomane,

        You outdid yourself on this comment. I tip my hat to you fine sir.

      2. avatar anonymous4goodreason says:

        Scoobie Doo!!! Love it!

    2. avatar Don from CT says:

      They are actually turning up in more and more crimes. Lets be honest. If I was a criminal, I’d prefer one vs a regular serialized gun that could be traced to some degree.

      But that doesn’t matter. If they didn’t exist, criminals would just use serialized guns.

      1. avatar Dude says:

        That’s interesting. I haven’t heard the stats on it. What keeps a criminal from removing the serial number from a non-ghost gun?

        1. avatar Arc says:

          Nothing, but I imagine there would be a residual image of the information even if you removed all metal from the numbers. The material behind them may still be able to be read under lab conditions. Its kind of like old platter drives leaving an after imaged of data even after a zero write. Recovery is possible, its just a colossally bigger pain in the ass.

          There isn’t much of a benefit to using a ghost gun over a stolen gun since its not going to matter if you get caught. The serial doesn’t magically record every hand the gun went through.

        2. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

          Less aptitude for tool use than building a new gun. The smarter ones either drill all the way through or don’t bother at all if the obliterated serial number charge is bigger than the possession of a stolen firearm but availability tends to be a determining factor.

        3. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:


          I’d like to know of these magical methods that can determine the orientation of metal that has been dremeled away and no longer exists. Does it include a bubbling cauldron and a wizard’s hat?

          If a criminal obtains a gun (regardless of the method), all he/she has to do to turn it into a “ghost gun” is file off the serial number and lightly dremel a small section of the barrel’s interior to mess with the forensics. Or simply replace the barrel if it’s a semi-auto.

        4. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

          Guesty for serials that are stamped in the metal a bit of hydrochloric acid and a good camera can get the serial to appear and be documented. I don’t know enough about the metallurgy to tell you why it works but did it enough to say it does.

        5. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          “I imagine there would be a residual image of the information even if you removed all metal from the numbers. The material behind them may still be able to be read under lab conditions.”

          That is easily defeated by drilling on the numbers “until you see daylight”, all the way through the material…

        6. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:


          AR lowers and handgun frames are typically laser-serialized nowadays, meaning the surrounding materials aren’t pressure-stressed upon marking. And even for stamped metals, I’m really curious as to how anyone can see numbers if they were stamped at say 5 mils, but the metal has been dremeled away to double that depth. Once the material is gone, it’s gone.

        7. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

          Guesty anything etched laughs at the field expedient method we had to use and no idea why it worked but so long as there was enough material for the acid to work with stamped numbers were able to show to some degree (often needed several pictures). Geoff brought up the counter that generally never gets bothered with.

        8. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          Roll-stamped on a barrel is pretty much impossible to destroy, unless one drills through, welds in a fill, and re-machines. But by that point, just making a barrel with no number in the first place becomes easier.

          (Pssst! Hey, buddy! Wanna buy a Glock 17 barrel with no number?)

        9. avatar Huntmaster says:

          That is seriously against the law!

      2. avatar Clark says:

        You’re forgetting a couple of key points. First, criminals tend to use guns sourced by other criminals, so the idea of tracking serial numbers is largely hokey.
        Second, if criminals hand the foresight, capital, and discipline to source parts and construct new guns they wouldn’t need to be criminals. They’re criminals because they take the easy way (just using the gins stolen from a nightstand during a burglary).

    3. avatar P-Dog says:

      Very rarely.

      In most crimes that involve 80% guns, usually it’s someone arrested for a different violation, but the police happen to discover they own an 80%er. Usually it’s not a violent crime relating to the USE of said gun. When it comes to actual violence committed with 80% guns, I think I can count on my hands the number of times that’s happened in CA history. There was a case in CA a few years ago of a cop-gone-mad using an AR15 he built from an 80% kit. There were two other cases where guys used a similar AR to kill their families and themselves. So something like 3 or 4 instances of violence with 80%ers in the last 10 years. That many people die every day in California from non-ghost guns by gangbangers. To put it to perspective how minuscule a threat ghost guns are, more people die from lightning strikes than are killed by homemade guns.

      These authors who try to stir up panic fail to realize a few things.

      #1, it takes time to mill out an AR 80% or a P80 Glock. Gangbangers are not going to spend their Saturday nights filing off the edges of the polymer on the P80 to create nice smooth rail for their custom P80 gun.
      #2, just because you finish the receiver doesn’t mean your gun will work properly. For quite a few of my P80’s, I had to do multiple trips to the range, gunsmith, extra filing, replace parts, etc., just to get it to run properly. That’s not time a gangbanger is going to spend just to “be off the radar”.
      #3, there’s no incentive for criminals to pursue 80% unserialized firearms. It will cost more time and more money to create an AR15 from an 80% lower (your jig and tool costs) and the same goes for a P80 Glock.
      #4, the allure of “going under the radar” in this fashion is quite silly when you realize that $2 metal files are a cheaper and faster alternative than going through the pain of creating your own firearm. Even with this being the case, it seems that most criminals and gangbangers are not autistic enough to worry about the serial number conundrum, as very few crime guns actually have their serial numbers filed off. I suppose the prevalence of black market guns or the ability of them to do straw purchases relieves them this tension of worrying about a gun being traced back to them.

      This whole thing is a moral panic, and shame on this Gibson author for fanning the flames.

  7. avatar No one of consequence says:

    Seems to me the easiest way to ensure criminals have guns, is to make law-abiding gun owners into criminals by fiat.

    Building a Polymer80 seems relatively simple and easy, but price wise comes in about the same as a new Glock. Faster, easier, and cheaper for the typical criminal to just steal one in the first place.

    1. avatar JR Pollock says:

      You can buy a Gen3 Glock 22 police trade-in for less than $300.00, and a P80 lower kit for $110.00, shipped. Strip the Glock, use the parts to complete your P80, and save the stripped Glock frame for the next buyback event.

  8. avatar Prndll says:

    There is no ‘ghost gun problem’. This is just another set of lies to make people think things that are not true. Basically, to control people.

    This isn’t real because the “ghost gun” isn’t real. There is no such thing as a ghost gun. This is the same thing as the ‘Saturday Night Special’ which also did not exist. Except for maybe in the minds of liberals.

    The truth is:
    What they are calling a ghost gun is an AR15 made from an 80% lower that has no cereal number. Without that number, people think it can’t be traced so it becomes an order of magnitude more deadly. Such ideas are so ludicrous it’s laughable. It’s no different from Bruce Willis claiming the Glock is a porcelain gun that costs more than a cop makes in a year. It’s nothing more than another liberal attempt to demonize and eventually outlaw the AR15.

    1. avatar don from CT says:

      cereal number??


      1. avatar former water walker says:

        🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅🐅Tony approved!

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          I used to have a T-shit with an image of a bowl with a spoon in it and the words underneath :

          “Cereal Killer”… 😉

    2. avatar No one of consequence says:

      The term also refers to Glock, Sig 320 and 1911 clones (at least, there may be others by now) and AR-10s built on receivers finished at home.

      Ghost guns – they’re not just AR-15s anymore!

      Not trying to be pedantic … The ban is aimed at far more than “just” rifles and it’s important to recognize how far reaching this is. It also will affect anyone who, say, wants to buy a new slide for their Glock frame (e.g.caliber conversion).

    3. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Our country has a socialist problem and it’s only getting worse. That should be the headline. Just finished a book titled ” Peoples Republic ” by Kurt Schlichter. It’s a very good book and shows how it would be in a divided U S A. Gives a lot of insight into the mindset of the socialists in our country and the results of their policies. Not trying to pimp a book but it really exposes the mentality of these evil people.

      1. avatar Mike B in WI says:

        I have read all three of Kurt’s books starting with People’s Republic. I strongly encourage you to get the other two and read them. I can’t wait for the fourth book in the series, Collapse, to be available later this month.

        Great series of books.

    4. avatar arc says:

      Plenty of old pot metal Saturday night specials are still available, wouldn’t say they never existed.

      1. avatar Prndll says:

        Plenty of old pot metal guns out there period.

        The term does not mean whatever material it was made of. Being pot metal just made them cheap. You could say the same thing for the Chiappa SAA 22lr revolver.

        1. avatar Someone says:

          The “anti Saturday night special” law says that I can’t buy Rough Rider .22 lr revolver in Illinois, because its frame is made of zinc alloy that would melt at some relatively low temperature. We can’t have all those poor people buying cheap handguns now, can we. But plastic framed guns are a-ok.

  9. avatar Don from CT says:

    Northeast states have not outlawed “ghost guns”.

    They have passed laws requiring you to put a serial number on them.

    You can still build them.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      You can also still buy the components online.

    2. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      Last I remember NY banned “undetectable” unserialized (polymer 80’s) ghost guns. They totally forgot about the metal 80% kits till recently and sent a lot of warning letters to companies re shipping them to NY. Unless they pushed new legislation it is not illegal yet but I lost track of what is going on lately.

  10. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    PG&E says it wasn’t them. It was a ghost gun this time.

  11. avatar Marcus says:

    Screw them the more bad things happen due to ineffective gun laws the more of a waste it will appear to be even by the most incalcitrant grabbers.

  12. avatar Don from CT says:

    Anti-gun people need to wrap their head around the idea that in a post-industrial society with CNC controlled milling machines and additive manufacturing, guns aren’t particularly hard to make. Either legally or illegally.

    1. avatar Dude says:

      And it will only become cheaper and easier in the future.

    2. avatar Someone says:

      Guns weren’t particularly hard to make even before all the magical 3D printing and CNC mills showed up. Guns are still easy and cheap to make at home with very basic tools. Now GOOD guns are neither cheap nor easy to make, but criminals don’t care about the heirloom quality in a firearm.

      I made a serviceable, if not pretty, single shot pistol in my teens using out of spec CZ75 barrel that my friend found on a railroad car with scrap from CZUB. I made it as a proof of concept with fixed bolt and sliding/rotating barrel. If I didn’t have the factory made barrel, I would have drilled a thick steel bar, like I did for my little black powder cannons.

  13. avatar Bubba J says:

    Law makers regarding “ghost guns”& guns in general : Hey everyone lets scribble on mediums of writing to make ourselves and others like us feel like we have done something of value about X “problem” Instead of realizing what we are actually doing is harassing people with useless unenforceable edicts yet again.

  14. avatar TommyGNR says:

    What are they classifying a “Ghost Gun”? Do they mean building a AR from a completed lower or a 80% lower?
    Is this writer saying we have to go through a background check to but parts like a lower receiver kit?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      A “ghost gun” is technically any unserialized firearm, but it is generally used to refer to home built ARs and AKs. Only a few states have gotten wind of the (non-AR style) 80% handguns.

  15. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    They should just make it a crime to commit a crime using a ‘ghost gun’.

    1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      What like possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony?

  16. avatar Dude says:

    Remember they hate you, and they can’t wait until the next mass shooting to make it easier.

    “Trump won’t dare cross gun zealots to serve the vast majority of Americans.

    We’ll see how convincingly he can pretend to be a man of action in the wake of the next inevitable horrific mass shooting.”

  17. avatar Ogre says:

    The author is simply one of those bureaucratically-inclined socialists who believe that government can and should rule the people and keep them in line by controlling their things, in this case guns. I think this article also reveals a serious subliminal fear by government/socialists that citizens armed with uncontrolled guns represent a real threat to state and local government (and by extension to the socialists in California – and certain other states – that support it).

    If one looks at the history of governments at all levels in this country and the pattern of rule and control they have tried to establish over the population for the past 100 years, and still thinks that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, that person is seriously deluded. While the Constitution may have established such a government, and Honest Abe spoke of “government of the people, for the people, and by the people,” it has not been so since the progressive President Wilson assumed office during WWI and began ramming through his socialist policies, and governments started getting bigger to enforce them. Governments don’t need our consent to govern us – to them we are just proles who need ruling and they will pass all the laws necessary to do that, with or without our consent. The Federal government and state governments in California and certain other states are living proof of that. IMHO, that government is best which governs least.

  18. avatar Dale Menard says:

    A ghost gun is just as easily traced as an ax, a hammer or a knife. Police solve crimes with fingerprints, tool marks, and DNA all the time. There is nothing magical about a serial number that gives the government more control.
    As a matter of policy, Chicago and other PD’s do not investigate “Straw purchasers.” What difference will a serial number make?

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      THIS IS THE POINT. The background check system is unto its self a farce for this exact reason.

  19. avatar bryan1980 says:

    So, you’re saying that despite there being a law against it, people will do it anyways? Well, that’s never happened before in the history of the world. I imagine that’s how Beta O’Rourke felt when someone told him that there would be some people who wouldn’t participate in his buy-back scheme!

  20. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Is there any data available to demonstrate that being able to trace guns reduces crime?

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “Is there any data available to demonstrate that being able to trace guns reduces crime?”

      Actually, yes, with a small qualifier.

      Canada. Canada instituted a nation-wide gun registration scheme that was *extremely* expensive and had a nearly *zero* rate of convictions.

      So they dropped it :

      “Canada Tried Registering Long Guns — And Gave Up”

      But don’t worry about a thing – Canada’s failure was just like socialism’s failure – They weren’t doing it right.

      America’s Leftists will get it right, they promise, because they said that we can trust them…

  21. avatar Made in America says:

    Ghost guns. This is B***S***. Like we don ‘t have enough problems with our gun laws now. For C***** S**** wake up people.

  22. avatar jonndoe says:

    To me Kalifiona Is a ghost state, It’s just a place where horrible laws and bad Ideas go to thrive It Is a shinning example to other States of what “NOT TO BECOME”.
    Home built firearms are NOT the problem as stated previously most criminals steal what they need.

    1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      Easier to steal than build ,cheaper to buy stolen then components to build. Nah need more control laws.

  23. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    I ain’t never seen me no ghost gun ! Build,Build and Build away.

  24. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Nice thing about ghost guns is they can disappear anytime they want,,,right???
    Now that’s SCARY…!!!😳

  25. avatar GS650G says:

    “Are your guns registered?”
    That’s the first thing so me one says who knows nothing about guns if I bring up hunting deer or target shooting. The populace thinks there is this gigantic, accurate database of guns and owners that approves the possession of guns by authorized and vetted people. And everyone and any gun not on the List is illegal or a criminal.

    I used to tell them there is no registration requirement and a few other facts now I just assure them I’m complying with all laws, which is true. Registering serial numbers in my name and address and keeping it all up to date isn’t one of the laws. Yet.
    The faith in UBC is also amazing since they think because there is a record of a purchase by a cleared person that person will have the itrem in the future. There is no such fact at all.
    And serial numbers on guns don’t save lives and rarely solve crimes. People have fingerprints and records of biometric data solve crimes more often. After all, someone still has to pull the triggers.

    1. avatar Bruce says:

      The use of serial numbers to track guns in TV shows has always bothered me. It might work sometimes in NYC. Other than that? How would the cops ever legally get a database of serial numbers, or, worse, maybe, a list of people who own a specific make and model of gun? Sure, the feds can, with enough time, track new guns to the first FFL who transferred it to an individual, and then, as long as no boating accidents are encountered along the way, through various FFLs as the firearm is transferred – as long as each person along the chain can accurately identify the person they transferred the firearm to (which is where unfortunate boating accidents often intervene). That often takes a lot of time and footwork.

      So, I think that it was in the original CSI, set in Las Vegas, NEVADA, where they were using a database list of who had specific makes and models of guns to find their perp. In the city that has advertisements for renting machine guns prominently displayed at the airport (modeled, of course, by a scantily dressed, large bosomed model).

      And that maybe part of what is behind the “Ghost Gun” craze right now. Theoretically, it is both laborious and problematic tracking guns throughout much of this country. Certainty throughout most of the “free” states. Yet, tracking guns through database searching is a staple of TV cop shows, esp of the CSI variety. Is it realistic? Is it safe to trust that federal and state governments aren’t cheating, acquiring databases of who has what guns, and pretending that they aren’t? I know how they quasi legally get ahold of much of my email, as well as my banking and telephone records. But I haven’t figured this one out yet. Still, is it safe to trust that they can’t and haven’t been doing this, esp given how frequently see it done on TV?

      1. avatar MyName says:

        My oldest gun has celebrated it’s 121st birthday, it was originally the property of the United States government, it has a serial number (actually, several of them on many parts). Exactly what utility this information would have if I shot someone with it is entirely unclear to me. Maybe, if it is someday used in a crime, the ATF will trace it back to it’s original owner and arrest Teddy Roosevelt. (Ok, no, I don’t have a gun that I can trace back to TR – I have a gun like the one that TR and his boys used.)

      2. avatar Rob says:

        I’ve never understood the ‘registration’ fetish myself.

        A weapon ‘registered’ to me is used in a murder. That I’m aware there’s no such thing as a registration database BUT police somehow come to my door. And I explain I gave/sold/lost that weapon years ago and haven’t seen it since. No, I didn’t report it. There was no law, at the time (there’s not one now, is there?) that I report. BTW, you got a database of transfers? That’s interesting.

        And, yes, I have a rock solid alibi regarding my whereabouts the night of the murder. Case closed. See ya’-

        What am I missing?

      3. avatar Southern Cross says:

        Should we tell them that, unlike motor vehicle number plates, gun serial numbers are not unique.

        I think their heads would explode at such a thought.

    2. avatar MyName says:

      The un(der)informed ask me that all the time too. I usually respond, “No, in this state a gun registry would be illegal and I follow the law”. That one generates some interesting looks and responses.

      This lack of understanding of the current state of gun laws and their variations among the several states is, I think, among the principle reasons that so many people are in favor of things like UBC’s and other identification and permission schemes. They think that there are no roadblocks in place vis-à-vis gun purchases and believe the tripe they heare\ in the media about it being easier to get a gun than a cheeseburger or whatever. Now, personally, I think that all the background check laws that already exist are a pile of bovine manure and do absolutely nothing to inhibit criminals from getting guns but, at least I have a reasonable understanding of what the laws are in most states and a fairly comprehensive understanding of the laws at the federal level and in my state. It is a bit of a poignant commentary on the understanding of the general populace that the ones calling for major changes to the laws are, generally, those with the poorest understanding of the existing laws.

  26. avatar BusyBeef says:

    When did NY outlaw 80% lowers?
    Last I heard our AG sent a nasty letter threatening companies, but that was that.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      Who needs to pass a law if they can just send a letter and forbid something?

  27. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    What the blankity-blank, a piece of 4140 steel could be called a precursor part!!!

    1. avatar MyName says:

      An aluminum beer can could be called a precursor part. Google, AR lower cast from aluminum cans.

  28. avatar MyName says:

    “No national consensus exists on how [ghost guns] should be regulated.”

    A) Why do they need to be regulated at all? Should we regulate blocks of aluminum and steel? How about machine tools?

    B) Why would we need a national consensus (other than the already established ‘shall not be infringed’ bit)?

    “Even after the law goes into effect, preexisting guns without serial numbers will remain hard to trace.”

    What exactly is supposed to be the benefit of “traceability” when it comes to firearms anyway. Say someone is shot, if the gun is found, and traced back to the original owner, seller, manufacturer, or whatever, is the victim less shot? If the person who used said gun is a prohibited possessor, it doesn’t really matter how the gun was obtained or what it’s history is, the person is still in possession of it illegally. If the person is the original owner and is a legal possessor of the gun but they use it in a crime, is that crime not still a crime? How does the history of the gun impact the nature of the crime committed with it? Oh, sure, it might be possible to establish that a gun used in a crime was stolen and additional charges could be brought but, if someone is accused of using a gun in a crime it seems likely that the particular crime is likely to be a more significant charge than being in possession of stolen property. Really, how many murder convictions or acquittals have there been that hinged on the ability of the authorities to document the history of the gun based upon it’s serial number? Are there multitudes of violent criminals running free simply because prosecutors could not establish when the gun in question was manufactured, or which gun shop sold it to the original owner in 1997?

    Serial numbers exist on manufactured objects primarily so the manufacturer can track when they were made, on what production equipment, by what people and using what materials in case a problem arises and they need to recall, modify, replace, etc. some group of products or modify some process. The only utility to serial numbers on guns, outside of those manufacturer concerns, is to identify and return stolen property to its rightful owner and, in the absence of more serious charges, to charge the thief with the theft, but something tells me that these are not really the principle priorities in California or in most other law enforcement agencies. Not to mention the fact that if all I wanted out of a serial number was a means to identify my property then I could accomplish the same goal with any unique mark. Further, that mark need only be unique to me, not necessarily unique to the gun – think cattle brand.

    Various government entities are always wringing their hands about the traceability of firearms but none can ever seem to explain why it is so necessary – unless they are being disingenuous about their desire to maintain a database of who owns what so they can later confiscate it, but surely that is not their motivation. (That last bit was sarcasm, for those whose detectors are faulty.)

    1. avatar Someone says:

      I think that most of gun registration supporters do want to be able to take them away from their owners and crime fighting is just a convenient pretext.
      The useful idiots who don’t want to confiscate probably think that lawful owners, who register their gun, then go and use it to murder someone and then leave it next to the body. That’s the only situation where the registration can help in investigation.

  29. avatar Slapshot says:

    Ghost guns are such a crock. Millions of firearms were manufactured by well know companies like Savage, Mossberg, Stevens and even Remington and Winchester without serial numbers before December 1968 when federal law required serial numbers on receivers. Most companies didn’t number guns because it was a cost saving measure. The cheapest Winchester’s and Remingtons were unmarked while the more expensive models were numbered. And yes, ATF technology branch knows every make and model from every commercial manufacturer that was produced without serial numbers before the GCA of 68.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Yup, I own more than one. On those old guns I’ve made a mark that can be used to identify them as mine in case they are ever stolen.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        No marks on mine. I keep them original and pristine for future generations of my family who will one day receive them under their care.

  30. avatar BIG AL says:


    1. avatar Someone says:

      Oh, Big Al, all your letters are so….BIG!

  31. avatar David Thompson says:

    You can put cash down at a hardware store and walk out with a file.

    No more serial number.

  32. avatar ",keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

    Just leave out the “,Ghost Gunms” an go with “Cslifornia has a problem”

  33. avatar Thom357 says:

    Cheer up: with the massive Democrat party trend to decriminalize victimless crimes, state-gun-law violations will soon result in consequences no more serious than those for forgetting to charge your parking meter.

  34. avatar Sian says:

    Them: “The slippery slope can’t hurt you. The slippery slope doesn’t exist.

    The slipepry slope: “AB 879 is a good first step, but it must be regarded as only a starting point. We will need additional legislation, and before we do anything, we need better numbers. Federal and state agencies should regularly disclose what data they possess about ghost guns so that policy can be better tailored to address the problem. Once we generate better estimates about the scope of the ghost gun problem, then we can determine what to do next.”

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      In other words, we need to ban/regulate ghost guns NOW even though we have no good data as to their use in crime.

      Not that evidence is required for the passage of laws. California banned CCW holders from carrying on school premises without the permission of the school administration despite a complete absence of any CCW holder ever discharging his/her firearm on a campus, i.e., a complete absence of evidence of criminality. Then when a few school districts handed out blanket permission to holders to carry, the state went and banned all but police and (of course) retired police from carrying on any school campus, including universities, public or private. Again, not a single incident was used as a factual basis to justify the limitation.

    2. avatar Someone says:

      Funny how as soon as gun grabbers get one infringement on the books, they push for next one, even more onerous. They have never enough. Like Terminator, they never stop.

  35. avatar Michael says:

    This DemocRat is a brainwashed Bolshevik for the ChiCom .chang to ingrain FEAR into the Anti Gunners in America.Thanks to the insane Beat Off O’Dork who pushed his Bafrinless lies across America,until he met a :PO’d Woman in Newtown CT to tell him Blow it out his Arse!

  36. avatar Minuteman says:

    Ghost gun? What the hell. How many criminals leave their guns behind during a crime? Forensics can trace a bullet to a barrel. Use a ar15 in a crime just make sure you have a different upper and throw the one used in the crime in the drink and install your spare upper. Same thing with a semi auto pistol. Always keep a spare barrel. This ghost gun thing is a big pile of nothingness!

    1. avatar Someone says:

      Or you can use a steel brush to change your barrel’s imprints on bullets. Or just shoot a lot. Barrels do not leave fingerprints.

  37. avatar Anonymoooose says:

    “ Federal and state agencies should regularly disclose what data they possess about ghost guns…”

    Right… just like California regularly discloses data on illegal immigration and cooperates with the federal government.

  38. avatar p-dog says:

    LA Times used to have a comment section. ‘Tis a tragedy that we can’t speak our mind on their page directly. I guess you can always use dissenter and write something there.

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