Oakland bans sale and possession of ‘ghost guns’, hoping it will reduce violence

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The Oakland City Council voted on Tuesday to ban the possession, sale, transfer and manufacture of ‘ghost weapons’, making it the latest Bay Area city to address the issue unobtainable weapons.

The order, brought by council member Dan Kalb, can result in a misdemeanor charge that could result in a maximum of six months in county jail or a $1,000 fine for the first offense. A second violation could cost $2,500 and $5,000 or more for each subsequent violation.

According to the Brady Center, “ghost guns are serialized, untraceable firearms that can be purchased online and assembled at home.” They are often sold in kits, which include all the parts and what is needed to build the weapons. Ghost weapons appear to be contributing to the increase in shootings in Oakland.

“This effort will give the City of Oakland a new tool to remove these dangerous and unobtainable firearms from our streets to combat the scourge of gun violence that tears at the fabric of our communities,” Kalb said in a statement. last week.

“We are grateful for the hard work and consideration of our colleagues who support this crucial legislation banning ghost weapons and ghost weapon kits,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

The order comes as the city grapples with an increase in violent crime and shootings. In 2021, Oakland recorded the highest number of homicides, 129, in nearly a decade. The police department recovered 1,200 firearms from city streets in 2021, 272 of which were ghost guns, or nearly 22%, according to the Oakland Police Department. This number is much higher than in 2020, when 16.5% of all confiscated firearms were ghost guns and about 7% were ghost guns in 2019.

Oakland is the latest city to tackle ghost weapons. In September, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to ban the sale and possession of “ghost gun” kits and parts in the city.

The legislation, similar to San Francisco’s, has limitations and it’s unclear what difference it will make in phasing out ghost weapons entirely. Buyers can send their Ghost Weapon Parts to an address in a nearby city and not be subject to the same rules.

Anyone can get a ghost gun and have it delivered almost anywhere in the United States. Background checks are not required. Ghost guns often don’t have serial numbers because they are shipped in parts. The lack of a serial number can prevent the police from tracing them to their owner.

AB879, which takes effect in July, requires the sale of gun parts to be made through a licensed firearms seller, but does not require sellers to include serial numbers on the parts.

The legislation was also sponsored by Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and council member Noel Gallo.

Sarah Ravani is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @SarRavani

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