California, which already has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, has added new restrictions on untraceable “ghost guns” and on marketing firearms to minors, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.
“As the Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections and states across the country treat gun violence as inevitable, California is doubling down on commonsense gun safety measures that save lives,” Newsom said in a statement announcing that he had signed the two bills a day earlier.
Ghost guns, the privately made weapons without serial numbers, are increasingly being tied to violent crimes. Their proliferation has prompted President Joe Biden’s administration to come up with new regulations to crack down on them.
Under the new law, California now requires parts used to build firearms to have serial numbers, and gives Californians who have weapons without serial numbers until January 1, 2024, to register them and add the numbers.
Starting in January 2023, anyone convicted of manufacturing a firearm without a serial number, or aiding the manufacture of a firearm by a prohibited person, will be barred from possessing a firearm for 10 years.
“Ghost guns have wreaked havoc in communities all over the state and in particular have disproportionately affected the state’s Black and Brown residents,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady, a national gun control group.
But Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said California lacks a clear definition of what constitutes a ghost gun kit. He predicted the new law will be overturned based on the tougher standard set last week by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark firearms ruling that said Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
Newsom also barred marketing firearms to minors, with a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. It allows people harmed by violations to sue for damages.
The governor, a Democrat, also released a video blaming U.S. Supreme Court justices and right-wing Republicans for allowing what he called the “disgusting marketing” of “weapons of war.”
“Guns are not toys — they are deadly weapons,” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, who sought the restriction.
But Paredes fears the law endangers youth camps that include target shooting or firearms courses. It violates free speech, he said, predicting it also will be overturned.
The laws, which took effect immediately, are among more than a dozen gun control bills that legislators sent to Newsom before they left Thursday for a monthlong summer recess.