San Jose passes ordinance to ban possession of ghost guns

San Jose City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed an ordinance that closes a loophole in the law banning ghost guns.

"I think it’s important for every city to step forward. We’re seeing rising gun crime in every city," said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

The mayor pointed to the recent arrest of Matt Freudenblum.

Police investigators said the 24-year-old Sunnyvale man was selling stolen property, but also had a cache of so-called ghost guns, and parts to assemble ghost guns.

"These ghost guns have become the fodder for criminal organizations, particularly gun trafficking rings," said Liccard. "There are no serial numbers on these guns," said Liccardo, pointing to a police evidence photog showing a table filled with weapons.

The ordinance would make it illegal for anyone in San Jose to own, have, assemble or distribute guns without serial numbers – commonly called ghost guns.

According to the San Jose Police Department in California, nearly 30% of weapons seized by the ATF are ghost guns. And in San Jose, detectives said approximately one-fourth of the 963 firearms taken by police officers in 2021 did not have serial numbers.

"During the Cinco holiday, just this past week, we seized a large majority of ghost guns as well. And they were all seized from people who are prohibited persons – who are mostly likely going to commit additional crimes," said Officer Steve Aponte, a spokesman for the police department.

Experts said misdemeanor laws such as this attack the symptom, but not the cause of gun violence.

"This is really an area that there’s a lot of focus on here because it’s novel, but not because it’s the huge threat other kinds of stolen weapons are. I don’t think it’ll make much of a dent in the crime rate," said Kenneth Gray, a political science professor at the University of New Haven.

Liccardo is confident any dent, coupled with a concerted effort to attack a mainstay of street crime will break the pattern of gun violence.

"This is just one more tool in our toolbox," he said.

There will be a second reading of the measure May 17. The ordinance would then go into effect a month later. But enforcement wouldn’t begin for six-months to give people time to turn in ghost guns and ghost gun kits.