The Coast News Group
Encinitas ghost guns
A proposed city ordinance is based off similar bans recently passed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and City of San Diego. According to the Sheriff’s Department, gun crimes are a rarity in Encinitas. Courtesy photo
CitiesCrimeEncinitasEncinitas FeaturedNewsPolitics & Government

Encinitas City Council poised to ban ghost guns

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council will soon take up a resolution banning the possession, manufacturing and use of ghost guns, a proposal inspired by recent similar bans in San Diego County.

The County Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance banning the use of guns manufactured with parts devoid of serial numbers, otherwise known as ghost guns, in the unincorporated parts of the county. The ordinance came after the City of San Diego passed a similar ordinance.

“I see this as being substantive, not just political theatre,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who brought the item to the council along with Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca. “I actually do think there is a loophole around these ghost guns.”

Capt. Dustin Lopez of the Sheriff’s Department North Coastal Station told the council his biggest concern is the manufacturing of these difficult-to-trace firearms. According to Lopez, it’s relatively easy for someone to use a 3-D printer to print the lower part of a handgun and then easily purchase the remaining necessary parts online.

“Somebody that had a 3-D printer here in the city of Encinitas could actually be manufacturing the lower part and the rest of the parts are essentially purchased online and assembled as a gun,” Lopez said. “That’s what we’re more concerned about because we know about the purchasing of the parts.”

Lopez told The Coast News that his department performed an analysis on ghost guns, but found very few instances of them in the city — a total of three ghost guns were found in the city of Encinitas last year.

On the whole, gun crimes are a rarity in Encinitas, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

“In comparable numbers, I actually compared us to San Marcos, which is a comparably-sized city, and there they actually seized 20 ghost guns in 2021,” Lopez said. “We are a relatively safe city but guns float around so that’s just to say how many we’ve actually seized within the city.”

Mosca said despite the low numbers in Encinitas, he has seen data that shows a greater number of ghost guns on the streets statewide which led to him bringing the item to council along with the mayor.

“In fact, I think the county of San Diego is actually one of the highest increases in ghost guns and gun violence in the entire state,” Mosca said.

The council was unanimous in its desire for city staff to return to them with a draft ordinance for them to review. Blakespear said they will likely be basing it off of the ordinances based already in San Diego.

“Because the county and the city of San Diego have already done it, we should be able to lift the ordinances that they have and make it really clear what you’re not allowed to have in the city of Encinitas or to sell,” Blakespear said.

The county ordinance updates definitions regarding firearms to include unserialized ghost guns and parts; prohibits the possession or distribution of parts without serial numbers that are used in the creation or possession of ghost guns; prohibits 3D printing of firearms or parts, and requires the safe storage of firearms within a residence or accessory structure.

During the Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 11 meeting, Loren Springer, chairman of the San Diego Libertarian Party, asked if the board would outlaw a 3-D printer next, as those can also be used to manufacture firearms, according to wire reports.

“All the bans in the world will not stop a criminal,” Springer said.

Supervisor Jim Desmond and Supervisor Joel Anderson both voted against the resolution, noting these types of guns are already illegal and the ordinance will not likely make the community safer from gun violence.

When it comes to requiring a serial number for every part of a gun, “the good guys are gonna do that,” Desmond said. “The bad guys won’t.”

Desmond added that California has safe-storage laws, and said there are some 300,000 laws that cover firearms nationwide. Anderson wrote in a statement that he “does not believe that the ghost gun ordinance will have a positive impact on crime, nor make our communities any safer.”