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Assemblymember Rodriguez Advances Legislation to Require Reporting on Arrests for Possession of Ghost Guns in California

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, Assembly Bill (AB) 97, authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D – Pomona), passed the Senate Committee on Public Safety with unanimous support. This legislation would require the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to include information on arrests for possessing an unserialized firearm, or ‘ghost gun,’ in their annual reporting. 

“As Chair of the Committee on Emergency Management, I am committed to finding real solutions to get ghost guns off our streets and keep our communities safe. We have some of the nation’s strongest gun laws here in California, but unfortunately, the current deterrence does not seem to be enough. AB 97 will reveal how effectively our policies deter this dangerous criminal activity,” stated Assemblymember Rodriguez.

As of July 2018, California required residents who assemble their own firearms or possess an unserialized firearm to obtain a unique serial number from the Department of Justice and to inscribe it on the firearm. One year after the law’s enactment, only 2,214 unserialized firearms were registered in accordance with the law. However, law enforcement recovered nearly 10,000 unserialized firearms that same year.

In recent years, the number of recovered ghost guns has increased. In 2021, Los Angeles Police Department reported that ghost guns contributed to more than 100 violent crimes, including 24 murders, 8 attempted homicides, and dozens of armed robberies and assaults. In the first half of the year, the Department confiscated 863 ghost guns, a nearly 300% increase from the previous year.

The DOJ currently collects detailed information from law enforcement on misdemeanor arrests. However, arrests for “weapons” are aggregated in its annual crime report. AB 97 would require the DOJ to specify misdemeanor arrests for possessing an unserialized firearm, allowing the Legislature to gain a comprehensive picture of the proliferation of these guns in our community so that legislation addressing the problem can be informed by and based on data.

“Throughout California, ghost guns are being used in the violent commission of crimes, and we do not currently have data available to effectively evaluate the growing issue. This bill would ensure that arrests for ghost guns are explicitly reported so that we in the Legislature can more clearly see how many ghost guns are recovered annually to inform policy decisions moving forward,” added Assemblymember Rodriguez.

Assemblymember Rodriguez (Twitter) represents the 53rd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, and Upland. He is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management.