‘Ghost guns’ could be an apparition in CA

‘Ghost guns’ could be an apparition in CA

When 3D-printed guns first emerged on the scene, many predicted the “ghost guns” could render the regulation of guns pointless.


The creation of the 3-D gun is only about one year old. The first 3D-printed gun initially was fired in the spring of 2013.

3D printers are $10,000 machines that can use digital designs to build a variety of devices out of thousands of layers of hard plastic.

The homemade plastic gun, known as the “Liberator .380,” is made with a computer blueprint, a 3-D printer and plastic resin.

Law enforcement says plastic guns can pass through security checkpoints without setting off metal detectors. “They are so frightening because they render most standard detection useless,” said Tim Murphy, former deputy director of the FBI, in a Dallas News story.

It will be difficult to keep tabs on firearms that are made at home using 3-D printer. But SB 808, by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, requires a person to obtain a serial number from the California Department of Justice, and submit to a background check, prior to making a ghost gun.

It is already against the law to have an undetectable gun that could go through security monitors without being seen. That law was passed in In 1988 in the U.S. Congress under the Undetectable Firearms Act.

De Leon stressed SB 808 does not ban the ghost guns. “There is a loophole in the law for homemade guns,” de Leon said. “Ghost guns have fallen into the hands of criminals.”

Plastic guns

In the 1980s, the U.S. Congress looked into an Austrian-made Glock made of polymer plastic that opponents claimed was undetectable in airport screenings. Some cities, including, New York City, banned the Glock.

But according to Popular Mechanics:

“Airport security machines did detect the Glock because they’re mostly X-ray machines, and X-rays see plastic just the way they see metal. Moreover, by weight, the Glock is actually mostly metal anyway. The slide is made out of steel, so if you do have a magnetometer, it should detect that slide. And if someone is staring at it and knows what they’re looking for, they should be able to see it. This was a huge embarrassment for gun-control forces and a huge boon for Glock. There is no better way in the United States to get attention for a gun than to suggest it’s extremely potent and effective.”

Crime is not due to homemade guns

“The crime happening in the state is not due to homemade guns,” said Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, a former police officer. Knight explained most people are not able to tell the difference between homemade and undetectable guns.

“Somewhere along the path we’ve lost our way,” said state Sen. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon. “We look at all guns as evil, not at criminals.”

Anderson said only law-abiding citizens will pay attention to the law. “Gangbangers will not. 3-D printers are available in some libraries. This is just more minutia The real problem is that gang members and criminals are out there. We’re not doing anything to collect their guns. But we are truing to collect the guns of law-abiding citizens.”

Anderson advocated focusing on serious policies that might reduce crime rather than going after guns.

De Leon said that, because Congress failed to pass gun control legislation last year, “We can act” in California.

SB 808 passed the state Senate, 21-9.

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