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Solana Beach City Hall.
Solana Beach City Hall. File photo
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Solana Beach ordinance regulates non-serialized ‘ghost guns’

SOLANA BEACH — Returning to the dais for the first time in over two years, members of the Solana Beach City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an ordinance regulating non-serialized firearms, or ghost guns, in the city.

The ordinance was brought before the council to align local policies with new federal regulations announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice, expanding the definition of “firearm” to include kits that allow buyers to build their own non-serialized gun at home and prohibiting the possession, purchase and sale of non-serialized untraceable firearms.

By expanding firearms regulations to include gun kits and 3D-printed guns –– a current loophole in California law –– city leaders hope to reduce the number of unserialized firearms, make it easier for law enforcement to trace firearms used in a crime, and prevent the sale of all firearms and kits to convicted felons and other prohibited individuals.

The new regulations go into effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, according to the Department of Justice. Similar ordinances have also been passed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the City of Encinitas.

“The ordinance before you makes some changes to close those gaps before the state and federal laws go into effect with respect to ghost guns,” said City Attorney Johanna Canlas.

Law enforcement seized two ghost guns within Solana Beach city boundaries in 2021, but there has been no record to date of an unserialized weapon being used in a crime within the city, according to a staff report.

One incident occurred in May 2021, when deputies arrested a man suspected of domestic violence who had fled the scene and later found a ghost gun in his car. In October 2021, a female suspected of committing a robbery against an elderly male was involved in a hit-and-run while driving a stolen vehicle the following day and arrested, at which time deputies found a ghost gun in the vehicle.

Despite low levels of local incidents involving ghost guns, city councilmembers have historically supported strengthened local regulations. In the past three years, the council adopted an ordinance requiring the safe residential storage of firearms in the city, passed a resolution calling on the 22nd District Agricultural Association to prevent the sale of unregulated firearm kits or parts at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and passed two other resolutions supporting firearm safety legislation.

“While I recognize that there are regulations coming down from the federal level and the state level, activists in this area have noted that strategies have to occur at every single level,” said Councilwoman Kelly Harless. “I’m really proud our city has taken such a proactive role in this.”

Under the new federal regulations, retailers selling firearm kits must run background checks on all prospective buyers, and firearms dealers and gunsmiths will be required to add a serial number to any 3D-printed or other unserialized firearms in their inventory.

Gun retailers and firearms licensees also must retain firearm licensing records for the full licensing term rather than the previous requirement of 20 years. The goal is to prevent the destruction of records that could assist law enforcement in tracing firearms used in violent crimes or homicides.

Mayor Lesa Heebner also referenced the widely-reported shooting of 10 people in a Brooklyn subway station on Monday, and reports that the gun left at the scene showed evidence of someone attempting to scratch off the serial number.

“This is an important issue, and it keeps us safe, including our law enforcement officers,” Heebner said of the ordinance.

1 comment

canyon May 1, 2022 at 11:18 am

The SB city council has chosen to apply city resources (salary expense certainly) to produce a regulation with no effect given state superseding criminal code law. That is a waste, and affects no criminal activity or reduces a threat to public safety in any measurable way.

Unserialized firearms have been illegal under state law since July 1, 2018

An excerpt from above: “Any person intending to manufacture or assemble a firearm after July 1, 2018, must first apply to the DOJ for a unique serial number.”

Serializing firearms is fine by me. Passing more laws to make the same thing illegal is simply wasteful. And that is what SB and many other entities have done, in spite of state law already prohibiting unserialized firearms.

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