San Francisco's Banned "Ghost Guns." Now What?

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It’s already illegal to shoot someone in San Francisco (unless you’re acting in self-defense). It’s illegal to rob someone, carjack them, or invade their home. Heck, it’s a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to simply carry a firearm in self-defense if you don’t possess a concealed handgun permit issued by your county sheriff or local police. But in San Francisco, it’s now extra illegal to do any of those things if you’ve got a “ghost gun.”

Supervisors unanimously voted to ban “ghost gun” sales — which are weapons built from firearm parts sold without serial numbers, making them difficult to trace — on September 17.

Gun safety advocates, including Moms Demand Action volunteers, joined Supervisor Catherine Stefani and Mayor London Breed at the signing ceremony — which will now make it illegal to sell or distribute ghost guns in San Francisco.

Hey, guess what? It’s also already illegal to sell or distribute any gun in San Francisco (and the rest of California) without putting the buyer through a background check, which clearly isn’t happening with illegal gun sales.

So what exactly does this new law do, besides make it impossible for San Franciscans to lawfully build their own firearm? Well, it creates a new misdemeanor offense in city code, which gives politicians the ability to hold a big signing ceremony to pat themselves on the back for “doing something.” Other than that, though, the new ordinance won’t have much of an impact.

According to the latest crime stats, there’ve been 52 homicides in San Francisco this year; an increase of about 15%. Not all of those homicides involve “ghost guns,” of course. Some don’t involve firearms at all. And as it turns out, far more city residents are dying from something that’s been illegal to possess a lot longer than an unserialized firearm: opioids.

While the city has had 52 murders in 2021, fatal drug overdoses are more than ten times higher. The San Francisco Chronicle has been keeping track, and as of today the city has had 545 drug overdose deaths this year, about 75% of which involve fentanyl. The city knows where the drug trade hot spots are, they know how many people are dying, but despite several high profile drug busts, the bodies keep dropping.

It seems to me that “ghost drugs” (if that’s what you want to call those unlicensed, unprescribed, cartel-produced opioids) are a much bigger problem than “ghost guns” in San Francisco, though the city’s political class certainly seems to disagree. They’re clearly taking a different approach to guns and drugs; doing everything they can to make San Francisco a gun-free zone, while adopting a “harm reduction” strategy to drug overdose deaths. Mayor London Breed announced last month that the city is moving forward with providing people with a “safe” place to do drugs under medical supervision, at a cost of more than $6-million.

The city has considered opening a site for years, and while the federal government and the state do not legally allow injections sites, the city approved legislation last year to authorize a site through an overdose prevention program, KTVU reported. What’s more, state Sen. Scott Wiener is pursuing legislation to allow San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles to open them.

Soon San Francisco will have more places where people can safely shoot up than safely go shooting. Given that police say the drug trade is responsible for a large amount of violent crime in the city, Breed and her gun-hating cohorts would be far better off trying to get control of the deluge of fentanyl and heroin destroying lives than slapping another misdemeanor ordinance on the books. To do that, however, would be to violate their own ideology, which views illegal drugs as harmful (sometimes, anyway) but even legal gun ownership as downright dangerous.