Perspective: Ghost gunsOfficials Confirm Santa Clarita Shooter Used a Ghost Gun

Published 2 December 2019

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last week confirmed that the weapon used in the Santa Clarita, California, school shooting was a homemade, unserialized pistol, otherwise known as a ghost gun. more and more homemade, unserialized weapons are popping up at crime scenes across California. Ghost guns provide a host of challenges for law enforcement. Chief among them is that they enable minors or those with criminal records to acquire firearms without having to go through a background check or create a trail of paperwork surrounding a gun purchase.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last week confirmed that the weapon used in the Santa Clarita, California, school shooting was a homemade, unserialized pistol, otherwise known as a ghost gun. The gunman was a 16-year-old Saugus High School student who used the handgun to shoot five classmates, killing a 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old-girl.

Alain Stephens writes in The Trace:

The .45-caliber handgun was crudely assembled from parts available for purchase without a background check. Officials said they had no indication who purchased the parts for the firearm, or who assembled it. 

As The Trace reported in May, more and more homemade, unserialized weapons are popping up at crime scenes across California. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives now say that nearly a third of the guns recovered by the agency in the state are homemade. 

Ghost guns provide a host of challenges for law enforcement. Chief among them is that they enable minors or those with criminal records to acquire firearms without having to go through a background check or create a trail of paperwork surrounding a gun purchase. Because ghost guns have no serial numbers, they are almost impossible to trace.

Stephens notes that “Ghost guns have showed up in a variety of high-profile shootings in California, including two other mass shootings. In 2013, after failing a background check at a gun store, a 23-year-old lone gunman used a homemade AR-15 rifle to kill five people at Santa Monica College.”

The weapon was illegal to possess under California law. 

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