With new ordinances under legal fire, San Jose looks to ban home-built guns

(Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

San Jose, California’s new ordinances requiring legal gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee to a third-party non-profit group in order to exercise the right to keep arms in the home is already facing a legal challenge, but city leaders are apparently willing to waste even more time and money on another proposed local ordinance that’s likely to lead to a lawsuit. This time around city council members are taking aim at the home-built firearms anti-Second Amendment activists have tagged as “ghost guns,” and just like the last round of local gun control, this measure seems like it’s well on its way to being adopted as law.

On Tuesday, councilmembers will vote on an ordinance prohibiting residents from possessing, manufacturing, selling, assembling, receiving or distributing un-serialized firearms and their parts. These homemade weapons are also known as ghost guns because they’re difficult to trace and can be easily assembled through kits or 3D printers. In February, local law enforcement busted a ghost gun factory operating out of a house in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood.

Ghost guns accounted for 25-50% of firearms recovered at crime scenes in California during an 18-month period in 2020 and 2021, according to a city memo. In Santa Clara County, the number of ghost guns recovered at crimes scenes increased by nearly 72% between 2015 and 2021.

San Jose Police Department spokesperson Steven Aponte said the department welcomes any legislation that helps officers remove illegal guns from the streets.

“Every illegal weapon taken from the hands of criminals helps prevent additional violent crimes from occurring,” Aponte told San José Spotlight.

There are far more guns than violent criminals in San Jose, so focusing on the inanimate object while leaving the criminal offender alone doesn’t actually seem like the best way to fight crime to me. And even some nominal supporters of the proposal don’t actually think it’s going to make much of a difference.

Margaret Petros, executive director of Mothers Against Murder, said she’s supportive of any law that curbs gun violence, but doubts a ban will be an effective deterrent. Speaking as she left the funeral of a person killed in a recent San Jose homicide, Petros said she wants policymakers to focus more on systemic root causes of crime.

“I see in Santa Clara County things are getting worse and worse—emotional traumas, homelessness, all of society’s problems need to also be taken care of,” Petros told San José Spotlight. “I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall when it comes to helping victims and preventing crimes from happening.”

I don’t blame Petros for being frustrated. After all, if gun control really worked to reduce violent crime then California, with more than 100 state and local gun control laws would be the safest state in the nation. Clearly that’s not the case but the anti-gun Democrats in control of the state’s political system continue to double down on their agenda to criminalize the right to keep and bear arms regardless of the rise in crime in many California cities.

As we demonstrated a few days ago when looking at the utter ineffectiveness of San Diego’s ban on “ghost guns,” the only people who’ll benefit from a ban on home-built guns in San Jose are the city council members and mayoral candidates who are able to convince voters that they’re “doing something” to address the city’s violent crime. I find it very hard to believe that a new misdemeanor offense for possessing an unserialized gun is going to have any impact on someone willing to commit a felony that involves pulling the trigger, especially since unserialized firearms make up just a small fraction of the overall number of firearms seized by California police every year.

And remember, carrying a firearm without a concealed handgun permit is already a crime in San Jose (and the rest of California), which makes an ordinance specifically targeting home-built guns even more ridiculous. But this is the Bay Area that we’re talking about, where idiotic proposals stand a good chance of becoming a dumb laws, so the odds are good that when the San Jose City Council meets on Tuesday to vote on its “ghost gun” ban it will pass by overwhelming margins… and will soon have its own day in court.