Solana Beach cracks down on ghost guns

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff file photo)

Solana Beach has adopted a new local law to ban the possession, purchase and sale of ghost guns in a way that complements state and federal laws that have been enacted.

Ghost guns are made privately by assembling parts into a functioning firearm, making them untraceable because they don’t have serial numbers. The Solana Beach City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance during its April 13 meeting. A second reading will follow next month.

“While I recognize that there are regulations coming down from the federal level and the state level, activists in this area have noted that strategies have to occur at every single level, and I’m really proud that our city has taken such a proactive role in this,” Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Kelly Harless said during the meeting. “We’ve passed two resolutions and an ordinance to this effect.”

Similar laws have been adopted recently by San Diego County and the city of San Diego. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden also announced a crackdown on ghost guns.

In 2021, about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as having been recovered by law enforcement during criminal investigations, according to the White House. That figure is a tenfold increase from 2016.

A Solana Beach city staff report also cited ATF research that said 30% of all guns seized in California in 2019 were ghost guns. The California Bureau of Firearms also reported that it seized 512% more ghost guns in 2019 compared to the year prior.

“This is really a problem right now,” Harless said. “Just last year we had two incidents that involved ghost guns in Solana Beach.”

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner referred to media reports that the gunman in the recent Brooklyn subway shooting had attempted to deface the serial number on the gun.

“It’s important to have these serial numbers,” Heebner said.