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Police Chief to Discuss Rising Gun Violence at Public Safety Committee

‘Ghost guns’ continue to be a problem

Published on Monday, October 19, 2020 | 1:00 am
 
File photos of illegal firearms recovered by Pasadena police in previous operations. Images courtesy Pasadena Police Dept.

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez is expected to offer an update on incidents of gun violence and the increasing number of guns confiscated this year at a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

In late August, Perez said his department had confiscated 211 guns in the first 240 days of 2020.

“This year has been a challenge for all of us in the community to reduce illegal gun possession and stop street violence,” Perez told Pasadena Now

“I worry every day for our young people,” the chief continued. “We suffered two tragic OISs [officer-involved shootings], but the community should be proud of the overall approach by our officers, with over 200 guns seized from cars and waistbands. Prevention is our first priority, but it is difficult without enforcement measures as well. It should be the community’s top priority.”

Gun violence incidents this year have already surpassed such incidents in 2019, according to the PSC staff report.  

This year, police have been faced with the growing challenges posed by unserialized ghost guns, privately constructed weapons that are almost impossible to trace. 

So far this year, police have seized 25 ghost guns, nearly 10 percent of all the weapons seized this year.

California officials are worried that mass shooters and other criminals who cannot legally purchase weapons are using ghost guns as an end-run around the state’s gun laws.

Police officers in Pasadena are not alone in dealing with this problem. One in three guns seized in the state has no serial number, according to federal firearms officials.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) doesn’t consider do-it-yourself gun kits as firearms, according to PBS. This loophole allows buyers to forego background checks. Guns are not required to have serial numbers in most states.

According to The Associated Press, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra is suing the Trump administration in an effort to crack-down on ghost guns and force the ATF to close the loophole.

On Aug. 15, police recovered a ghost gun at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting on North Raymond Avenue, near La Pintoresca Park.

In that incident, a police officer fatally shot Anthony McClain after McClain tried to flee during a traffic stop. The police officers said they saw the gun before one of the officers opened fire. McClain’s DNA was recovered from the weapon.

On Oct. 2, a traffic stop over an illegal U-turn in Pasadena resulted in the seizure of a ghost gun, several ounces of methamphetamine, stolen credit cards, and more than $180,000 in cash, police said. Two people were arrested.

On Oct. 9, a routine traffic stop on Navarro Avenue and Cedar Street led to the seizure of a loaded, unserialized ghost gun after two police officers stopped a car for a traffic violation and noticed an open container of alcohol. Two men were arrested in that case.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the chief is expected to also discuss community engagement, prevention initiatives, best practices studies, and internal operations.

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