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LAPD: Ghost Guns A Nationwide Epidemic

Published on Monday, October 18, 2021 | 11:42 am
Pasadena police recovered this unserialized “ghost gun,” along with a “large amount” of methamphetamine following a traffic stop on Oct. 22, 2020. (Credit: Pasadena Police Department)

The proliferation of ghost guns — some of which can be put together within 30 minutes — has increased “exponentially over the last year” and has become an “epidemic,” according to a Los Angeles Police Department report that will be reviewed by the police commission tomorrow.

Locally, the Pasadena Police Department took 288 guns off the street in 2020. About 10 percent of the recovered weapons were ghost guns.

On Aug. 15, local 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 officers said they saw the gun before one of the officers opened fire. Police say McClain’s DNA was recovered from the weapon.

The virtually untraceable weapons, which don’t have serial numbers, have increased by about 400% in Los Angeles since 2017, according to the LAPD’s data on recovered firearms.

“The current trend shows these figures will continue to grow exponentially,” the LAPD said in its report, which notes that 3D printing allows the components to be more accessible.

Ghost guns can be assembled by unlicensed buyers from legally purchased kits. The LAPD reported that a polymer 9mm ghost handgun takes between 30 minutes and two hours to assemble.

The unfinished parts are inexpensive and not required under federal law to have serial numbers or a background check to purchase.

“Ghost guns are replacing firearms people would normally purchase, with no background checks required,” the LAPD report said.

Ghost guns are often used in violent crimes in Los Angeles, according to the report. So far this year, 24 murders, eight attempted murders, 60 assaults with deadly weapons and 20 armed robberies involved ghost guns.

Between January and June of this year, 863 ghost guns were recovered, more than the 813 that were recovered during all of 2020.

“Ghost guns are an epidemic not only in Los Angeles, but Nationwide,” the LAPD report states.

Nationally, 8,712 ghost guns were recovered in 2020, while only 2,507 were recovered in 2017, the LAPD said, citing a report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The LAPD report, while citing an approximate 400% increase in the city in that time span, did not provide specific numbers.

The Los Angeles City Council on Aug. 31 took a major step toward prohibiting the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of ghost guns in Los Angeles by ordering the City Attorney’s Office to draft an ordinance.

“When we see an increase in homicides here, and when we see that the LAPD reports that 40% of the crime guns recovered are ghost guns, we know that we have a very urgent critical situation that needs to be addressed,” Councilman Paul Krekorian said on Aug. 31 before the unanimous vote to pass the motion he introduced with Councilman Paul Koretz on Aug. 10.

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