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White House cracks down on untraceable ghost guns

These new federal measures reinforce local measures adopted recently at both the city and county levels.

SAN DIEGO — Federal authorities are cracking down on ghost guns. Ghost guns are unserialized and untraceable firearms that can be put together using a kit or even a 3D printer. 

On Monday, President Biden unveiled new federal measures that will require these homemade weapons to have serial numbers, as well as mandate background checks to possess them. 

In last April's deadly shooting spree in the Gaslamp, police say Travis Sarreshteh used an unserialized ghost gun to kill 28-year-old Justin Boldin and wound four others.

City and county leaders say these new federal measures, which reinforce local measures adopted recently, could crack down on similar killings in the future, although gun rights advocates do not buy that.

"Gracie was a full of life, free spirit, happy go lucky individual," said her father, Bryan Muehlberger, speaking earlier with CBS 8. 

15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell, both freshmen at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, were killed by a 16-year-old classmate in November 2019 while waiting for class to begin in the school's quad.

"He reaches down in his backpack, pulls out a ghost gun, and fires it right in the back of my daughter," Bryan Muehlberger added. 

Muehlberger was at the White House on Monday as President Biden unveiled a series of new rules to regulate the sale of ghost guns.

Saugus High student Mia Tretta, who survived the school shooting that killed her best friend Dominic, was also at the Rose Garden ceremony.  

"Nothing has relieved the pain in my heart like working to prevent more senseless shootings," Tretta said as she introduced President Biden. 

Ghost guns explained

Ghost guns are are do-it-yourself, homemade firearms anyone can make using pieces that can be bought without background checks. They often come in kits or can be made with 3-D printers. Until Monday's proposed changes, anything that was only 80-percent complete was not considered a firearm and wasn't regulated.

"These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals," President Biden said. "We're going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice."

These new federal measures include qualifying ghost gun kits as firearms that are federally licensed, assigning serial numbers to them by the manufacturer and requiring background checks before purchasing them.

These new regulations are likely to face lawsuits from manufacturers and gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, which called Biden's actions "another hollow plan that will not stop this violence, adding that "this action sends the wrong message to violent criminals, because this "ban" will not affect them."

Local efforts to crack down on ghost guns

California state law currently requires a ghost gun owner to apply for a serial number once they've assembled it: a step that is often not taken.

Biden's actions drew praise from San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert and county Board of Supervisors chair Nathan Fletcher, following similar actions taken by the city and county in recent months.

"Today's long-awaited rule change is a critical step in curbing the
shocking rise in gun violence in our country, much of it fueled by the
proliferation of ghost guns,'' said von Wilpert, who wrote and helped pass the
Eliminate Non-Serialized Untraceable Firearms ordinance in the city last year.

Said Fletcher, "President Biden's administration recognizes the
devastating effect ghost guns are having on local communities. I'm pleased they are taking action to better regulate the buy and build gun kits.''

In January, the Board of Supervisors also passed an ordinance
requiring safe firearm storage and prohibiting the distribution or creation of
ghost guns in the county.

"We stepped up,,, to eradicate these dangerous weapons from our
neighborhoods, and the action by the White House strengthens our rules
locally,'' Fletcher said Monday. 

WATCH RELATED: Ghost gun ban in city of San Diego goes into effect (July 2021).

  

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