Los Angeles DA demands credit card companies block sales of "ghost guns"

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is likely going to face a recall election this November thanks to his soft-on-crime policies, which have drawn attention from both the law-abiding and lawbreakers in the county. Organizers of the recall campaign say they’ve already collected 450,000 or so signatures, and have another 50 days to collect the remaining 100,000 signatures need to put the recall on the ballot this fall, and with more than 30 communities in L.A. County voting “no confidence” in the D.A., I’d say the odds are good that the recall campaign will at least be able to put the issue to a vote of the people.

In the meantime, of course, Gascon is doing everything he can to try to keep his job, including talking up his desire for more gun control. But Gascon doesn’t just want lawmakers in Sacramento to put the screws to gun owners. He’s trying to enlist major credit card companies into his war on the right to keep and bear arms.

“In partnership with police and other community organizations, I have asked major credit card companies… Visa, MasterCard, and American Express to help stem the flow of these guns by stopping online payments for the process of ghost guns. I again urge companies to do the right thing and find ways to halt the sales. It is truly a matter of life and death,” Gascón stated.

According to his office, ghost guns kits are sold online for approximately $350 to $500. People assemble them to make working firearms. The guns are not registered and do not have a serial number, also no valid background check is needed.

Remember, this is California we’re talking about, so there are already plenty of regulations regarding home-built guns on the books. Anyone building a gun of their own must serialize it and report the serial number to California’s Department of Justice, and in July a new law will go into effect requiring sellers of DIY gunmaking kits to be licensed by the state and to put all customers through a background check. None of that will have much of an impact on criminals, mind you. They’ll continue to steal guns, acquire them through straw purchases, buy them on the black market, and yes, some will even continue to build their own.
Meanwhile, some are wondering why Gascon is spending his time asking credit card companies to block sales of gun-making kits instead of focusing his attention on the violent criminals prosecuted by his office.

“We are in this position today because we have leaders in our country who are willing to disregard public safety, sell assault rifles to 18-year-olds and spread racist hate if it helps them win elections,” said DA Gascón.

However, the DA was met with criticism for not enforcing gun enhancements on the cases he is prosecuting.

Gascón was quickly criticized by Eric Siddall, the vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which represents more than 800 deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County.

“California’s gun laws are the strictest in the nation. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Gascón refuses to enforce them,” Siddall said in a statement.

“Now he has the audacity to lecture the rest of the country about the danger of gun violence. His exploitation of this tragedy to spout political platitudes is unbecoming of his office. On one thing we agree with Mr. Gascón; thoughts and prayers are not enough. Nor are press conferences.”

If Gascon were truly refusing to enforce California’s gun laws, I’d probably be singing his praises. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. Instead Gascon has told his staff (in a since-rescinded policy) to not prosecute juveniles in adult court, no matter how serious the crime. He’s not using sentencing enhancements that increase the penalties for gang-related crimes and those in which a firearm is used. Gascon objects to those enhancements because he says they were put in place due to “raw emotions and fear mongering” on the part of lawmakers back in the 1980s and 90s, which is awfully ironic given the scare tactics Gascon himself is deploying in an effort to save his job.