Teen used ‘ghost gun’ in California high school shooting

FILE - This Nov. 14, 2019 file photo shows a California Highway Patrol officer escorting students out of Saugus High School after a shooting on the campus in Santa Clarita, Calif. Authorities say the teenager who shot five classmates, killing two, at a Southern California high school used an unregistered "ghost gun." Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Villanueva told media outlets Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019 that Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow's semi-automatic handgun had been assembled and did not have a serial number. Authorities are still working to determine how Berhow got the handgun. Berhow died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the shooting.

Los Angeles County (California) Sheriff Alex Villanueva Thursday described the gun used by a 16-year-old boy who fatally shot two fellow students and wounded three others last week at a southern California high school as a “ghost gun.”

The .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a replica of the Model 1911 Colt that was the standard U.S. military sidearm for decades was assembled from gun parts and did not have a serial number. The sheriff termed the gun unregistered and untraceable.

The so-called ghost guns have become a growing problem for law enforcement agencies around the country because the parts are easy to obtain, and the guns take limited expertise to build.

Thomas Groneman, a detective sergeant with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, told The Associated Press his agency built their own Glock-replica handgun from parts they ordered online as an experiment earlier this year.

“It was ridiculously easy to do it,” Groneman said. “It’s scary because anybody — convicted felons, people with psychological issues — can order it online.”

In Southern California, federal law enforcement officials said as many as one-third of all firearms seized are ghost guns.

While California has among the strictest gun laws in the country, they are based on traditional firearms that are made by manufacturers and labeled so ownership can be traced.

“Congress and state legislatures enact all these laws about gun registration but now the gun industry is creating a way to just bypass the entire thing by creating a mechanism to manufacture weapons yourself,” Villanueva said.

Unfortunately, the sheriff is allowing his emotions of the moment to interfere with rational thinking. Why would the “gun industry” create a way to minimize their profits by creating a means by which individuals could “manufacture” weapons themselves?

Too, we suspect the backlash from the growing number of Americans who want to see meaningful steps taken to reduce the glut of mass shootings would far outweigh any positives for the gun industry.

We would rather think that some talented machinists see an opportunity to make a buck by creating a product that will appeal to minors and others otherwise prohibited from owning firearms to avoid the background checks required to purchase ready-made guns from licensed dealers.

It’s already illegal to obliterate or remove the serial number from a firearm. That being the case, it boggles the mind that major components of firearms can be manufactured without a serial number and then be legally sold.

This is a national problem, not a California problem. It’s well past time for Congress to step up and address the issue.

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