Long Beach is continuing its push to address a growing concern over unlicensed and untraceable “ghost guns,” even as federal and state officials also enact new rules that seek to rein in what is believed to be a component of rising gun violence in the country.
The City Council voted Tuesday to formally support state legislation that could criminalize the production of guns without serial numbers and require anyone possessing one of those guns to register it with the Department of Justice and have a serial number put on it.
Assembly Bill 1621 was introduced in January, and could be part of an evolving network of laws that address ghost gun production and possession. A separate state law that California modeled after a controversial Texas abortion law could also let private citizens sue the manufacturer of ghost gun parts if they’re found to have hurt or killed a person.
President Joe Biden announced a new federal law Monday from the Rose Garden that will require people buying kits to assemble ghost guns to undergo a background check and licensed dealers to add serial numbers to ghost guns in their inventory.
Federal statistics shared by the White House this week put the number of ghost guns seized in 2021 at about 20,000.
The council still voted to back the proposed state legislation Tuesday after the city’s government affairs manager, Tyler Bonanno-Curley, advised that the state bill would compliment the federal rule. The jurisdictional difference would be that the state law would apply to local law enforcement agencies, he said, while the federal law would apply to federal agencies.
Last week, the council asked the city to look at creating a local ordinance that could criminalize the production or possession of ghost gun parts. Councilmember Suzie Price made the request after a February presentation given to the council’s Public Safety Committee that showed the number of ghost guns seized more than doubled in 2021 to 185.
Price said she’d still like to pursue a city ordinance so it could strengthen the city’s municipal code and spell out that possession and production of gun parts could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Long Beach.
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