Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Stem the Tide of Untraceable Firearms

Friday, October 11, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif --- A measure authored by Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), Assembly Bill 879 responds to the state and nationwide proliferation in untraceable firearms, commonly referred to as “Ghost Guns”, and the ever increasing human toll these illegal weapons continue to take on our society. AB 879, which was signed into law today, requires handgun frames and unfinished receivers to be sold by licensed vendors upon a state background check being conducted. 

Most guns, in California and nationwide, are bought in gun stores with identifying serial numbers and require a background check to be purchased. Some firearms in California are made from parts-kits that contain many parts of a firearm. These parts can be legally assembled into a functional weapon without the individual ever having to ever undergo a background check. Guns made at home without any serialized parts are called ghost guns because it is untraceable to law enforcement. Although the sale of a fully automatic AK-47 is illegal in California, even individuals on the prohibited persons list can purchase the necessary parts online, and assemble such an automatic weapon at home.

“I have been struggling to address California’s ghost gun problem for years now. Ghost guns are a very real issue in the communities I represent, as well as across the state” states Gipson. “This bill seeks to implement the common sense requirement to conduct background checks for unfinished firearm frames and receivers just like we do for ammunition bought and sold in the state.”

AB 879 will provide the necessary legal mechanisms required to effectively close a very dangerous loophole in our firearm regulatory framework. By ensuring that all precursor parts that can be easily fashioned into firearms are sold by licensed vendors, and that each of these parts are sold only after the buyer undergoes a state background check, this bill eliminates the unfettered access to firearms that people on the prohibited persons list in this state have enjoyed for far too long. This bill will also allow the Attorney General to seek injunctions to stop the manufacture, importation, selling, giving, or offering to sell, of assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles. Additionally, this bill will also require the California Department of Justice to retain a digital database of precursor part purchasers. Collectively, these provisions comprise a modernized, methodical, and comprehensive approach to public safety policy.