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DNA Investigation of Gun in McClain Shooting Could Take a Month

Weapon may be untraceable ‘ghost gun’ cobbled together from other firearms

Published on Monday, August 24, 2020 | 4:17 pm
 

DNA results on a gun alleged to have belonged to a man shot by police in Northwest Pasadena near La Pintoresca Park won’t be completed for several weeks according to Police Chief John Perez.

The weapon could go to a testing center in Glendale or to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which could process the evidence more quickly.

“At this time, the expectancy for accountability will continue. The community needs answers,” Perez told Pasadena Now on Monday. “The DNA and fingerprint request was submitted and we must wait 30 days for the information to return.”

The shooting could also bring focus on privately constructed weapons that are almost impossible to trace. Police say the weapon recovered at the scene could be an untraceable weapon like many that are popping up in California.

“We are looking at the possibility that it could be a ghost gun. It could be two parts poorly put together,” Perez said.

“Ghost guns” lack commercial serial numbers or other identifying marks, making them invisible and hard to track.

Pictures of the gun look as if the weapon was coming apart.

“I think these types of guns are extremely dangerous because they are not reliable and could even hurt the person using the weapon,” said Deputy Police Chief Cheryl Moody. “On top of that, the gun is not traceable.”

Police say Anthony McClain ditched the weapon as he fled from officers just before 8 p.m. on Aug. 15 during a traffic stop. He was shot once by a pursuing officer and died after being transferred to Huntington Hospital.

State worries

California officials are worried that mass shooters and other criminals who cannot legally purchase a weapon are using ghost guns as an end run around to get by the state’s stricter gun laws.

One in three guns seized in the state has no serial number, according to federal firearms officials.

In 2019, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said a 16-year-old boy Nathaniel Berhow fatally shot two fellow students and wounded three others at a Saugus High School School used an unregistered, untraceable “ghost gun.”

“Congress and state legislatures enact all these crimes about gun registration but now the gun industry is creating a way to just bypass the entire thing by creating a mechanism to manufacture weapons yourself,” Sheriff Villanueva told ABC News.

In Riverside, police said an untraceable AR-15-type weapon assembled from separately acquired parts was also ghosted.

In that case, Aaron Luther killed California Highway Patrol Officer Andre Moye and wounded two others in a shootout in Riverside. Luther, an ex-convict, was shot during the exchange of fire and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Laws are coming

Several laws have been passed that require accountability for gun owners and sellers, including the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Bill, which created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBS) and requires information on private purchases transfers be sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), but these laws don’t prohibit residents from creating their own weapons.

However, in 2016, the state passed a measure requiring anyone planning to build a homemade firearm to obtain a serial number from the state and pass a background check. Starting on July 1, 2024, “firearm precursor parts” will only be sold through a licensed dealer.
While hobbyists have long been able to use spare parts to create a firearm, modern technology has made it far easier to build a deadly weapon.

“These are a real concern for our community,” Perez said. “We don’t find them very often which is even more of a critical issue for all of us.”

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