San Jose leaders welcome federal crackdown on ghost guns

For months authorities in San Jose have been cracking down on the use of ghost guns.

The guns are often 3D printed or made from kits, which makes them untraceable and favored among criminals. But now new federal regulation on ghost guns has San Jose city leaders hopeful the tide is about to change.

Ghost guns are easy to get and hard to trace. These types of weapons are a growing problem on the streets of San Jose.

"We are seeing at least four to five ghost gun seizures a week," said Officer Steve Aponte with the San Jose Police Department.

Officers have been cracking down, through search warrants and car stops, then posting images of their haul on Twitter.

This year 28% of all firearms recovered have been ghost guns.

They were also used at each of the city's last three officer involved shootings.

"I think all in all our department understands that every single ghost gun we take off the street, every single gun we take off the street from a person who is not supposed to be possessing it, it is most likely going to reduce the overall violent crime we see," said Aponte.

The department said it welcomes the Biden administration's new regulation on ghost guns. So does the Santa Clara County District Attorneys office, which consulted on the plan.

"Over the last five years we went from four in our county to more than 300. So what I expect is that this executive order that this executive order that the president signed is going to slow that increase," said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

The new regulations close a loophole.  These "buy, build, shoot" kits will now be considered firearms, requiring serial numbers and background checks, where before they were just considered parts.

"It's hard for convicted felons to buy a gun. Up until this point it's been very easy to get a ghost gun," said Rosen.

Authorities are hoping that's about to change. In the meantime, they're planning additional efforts to get ghost guns off the streets.

"We're in the initial stages of starting a gun buyback program and it's specifically geared toward ghost guns," said Aponte.

People can turn the weapons in through Crime Stoppers and eventually, police hope to organize a full scale drop off event.

"If we get a ghost gun off the street, they will be getting a cash reward," said Aponte.