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San Jose City Council unanimously votes to ban ghost guns in the city

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, FILE

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — The San Jose City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would ban so-called ghost guns in the city.

The ordinance prohibits the possession, manufacturing, sale, assembly, transfer, receiving and distribution of firearms, as well as related components, that are not imprinted with a federal or state-authorized serial number.

Privately manufactured firearms, also referred to as ghost guns, are untraceable firearms that are often assembled by unlicensed individuals, the ordinance explains. They’re typically sold through unregulated sellers, without background checks, waiting periods, sales records retention, age restrictions or other restrictions.

San Jose follows other California cities that have banned ghost guns, including San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.

The ordinance is part of the mayor’s move to reduce gun harm and shift the financial burdens from taxpayers and victims to gun owners, the office of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

“In cities like San José and LA, a quarter of the illegal guns seized by the police are ‘ghost guns’ lacking any serial number or other identifying mark, enabling criminal gangs to deploy them without accountability,” Liccardo said in the statement.

Residents in possession of unserialized ghost gun components will have 120 days to comply with the ordinance before the rule is enforced, the statement says.

In California alone, ghost guns accounted for 25 to 50% of firearms recovered at crime scenes over an 18-month period during 2020 and 2021, according to the County of Santa Clara Crime Lab.

The number of ghost guns seized by San Jose police during criminal investigations in the last five years has increased “dramatically” from nine in 2017 to 221 in 2021, the ordinance states.

The ordinance will go into effect after June 16.

San Jose passed a groundbreaking rule in January that required gun owners to purchase liability insurance and pay an annual “gun harm reduction” fee. San Jose was the first city in the U.S. to pass such a law. It goes into effect in August.

President Joe Biden announced a new ghost gun measure last month, in an effort to crack down on what law enforcement has been calling a growing problem. Biden also called on Congress to pass universal background checks.

“We applaud the recent steps the Biden Administration has taken to stem the rising tide of ghost guns by banning their distribution. An ocean of ghost guns remain in our cities, however, requiring local communities to act to ban the possession of these untraceable guns and their component parts,” Liccardo said in the statement.

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