SAN JOSÉ, CA – Today, the San José City Council will vote to approve an ordinance to ban unserialized, privately-made firearms, also known as “ghost guns”, as part of the Mayor’s landmark gun harm reduction actions. The ordinance will prohibit the possession, manufacturing, sale, assembly, transfer, receiving, and distribution of unserialized firearms, frames, and receivers within San José.
“In cities like an 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,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “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. It’s time for every city to take action.”
On June 8, 2021, Mayor Liccardo and his council colleagues announced further actions to reduce gun harm. Included in these actions was a deterrent of straw-purchasing by, requiring gun stores to video- and audio-record all gun sale transactions and stores to post information about suicide prevention and access to mental health services, unanimously passed on June 9, 2021. Also included was San Jose’s first-in-the-nation requirement for gun owners to obtain and maintain liability insurance and establish an annual gun harm reduction investment from gun owners in gun sense and safety programs. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, ghost guns have become the weapon of choice for violent criminals and dangerous extremists. 30% of guns recovered by ATF in California were unserialized ghost guns, and federally 2,500 ghost guns were connected to 102 federal criminal cases in the last decade alone.
According to the County of Santa Clara Crime Lab, there was an increase of almost 72% of privately-made, unserialized firearm recoveries at crime scenes between 2015 to 2021 and, in California alone, ghost guns accounted for 25 to 50 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes over an 18-month period during years 2020 and 2021. In 2020, San José Police Department recovered 206 unserialized firearms, up from just 75 in 2017.
To address the rising threat of ghost guns, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego also recently passed similar ordinances. State legislation Assembly Bill 857 currently requires gun manufacture licensing and, coming into effect on July 2, 2022, Assembly Bill 879 will regulate the sale and transfer of firearm precursor parts – also known as kits – to be limited solely to licensed dealers and vendors. These kits are currently available online as for-sale kits for everything from AR-15 type weapons to Glock compatible handguns and Glock compatible weapons, including barrels, slides, and related parts. The San Jose Ordinance complements Assembly Bill 879 as it closes more loopholes that are being exploited.
Mayor Liccardo recently attended the Biden Administration’s announcement on new federal rule on ghost guns, clarifying these kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, and commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale.
Following a second reading on May 17, 2022, the ordinance will go into effect after June 16, 2022. The City, through San José Police Department, will provide 120 days for residents of San José who are in possession of un-serialized frames or receivers to comply with the ordinance prior to any active enforcement.