Yesterday, the media learned a little something about the firearm used by the gunman in the Santa Clarita shooting at Saugus High School. It seems the gun in question was a homebuilt firearm, a so-called “ghost gun.”
Of course, authorities still aren’t sure quite how the kid got hold of the gun.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed Thursday the firearm used in the shooting at Saugus High School, which left two teens dead and three others injured, was a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun that had been assembled from a kit.
In addition to the ghost gun used in the shooting, another kit gun was found at the shooter’s family home. The parts can be bought at gun shows or online, and video tutorials on how to turn the parts into a functioning firearm are easy to find on YouTube.
It’s not clear if the gun was assembled by the shooter or his deceased father, who had been an avid hunter, Villanueva said.
The shooter’s father, Mark Berhow, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2017. In an obituary, he was remembered for his love of big game hunting and fishing. Six guns were registered in his name, but Villanueva revealed on Thursday that they had at some point been legally confiscated.
“At one point all the weapons were lawfully removed from the home and he became a prohibited possessor,” Villanueva told KABC. “The guns were subsequently destroyed legally.”
Which really doesn’t clear anything up. After all, if the father was a prohibited possessor, it’s possible he built a handgun to keep a firearm after his other guns had been taken by the authorities.
However, there are also reports that there were a number of other firearms in the house, all legally registered with the state.
In my mind, though, that lends credence to the possibility that his father built the weapon. It suggests that there were a number of guns in the home and the kid grabbed whatever he could.
Regardless, it’s a move that’s prompting the state to take steps, as California always does.
“We don’t carry the 80 percenters,” said Bill Morgan, owner of Guns, Fishing and Other Stuff in Vacaville. “And most legitimate dealers won’t carry them.” Morgan only sells lower receivers that are already drilled and serialized at his store.
Morgan says the unserialized 80 percenters are not worth the risk, because customers who buy them are supposed to register them, but often don’t. So he’s not taking any chances.
“Everyone is worried about confiscation,” said Morgan. “The problem becomes if something else were to transpire with it, it would come right back to us.”
Morgan and many gun owners are not happy about a new law Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed to crack down on Californians who don’t register their homemade guns. It will require that so-called firearm “precursor” parts be sold only by licensed dealers and only after the buyer undergoes a background check.
Morgan says that’s a lot of paperwork that puts an unnecessary burden on law-abiding gun dealers and buyers. “There’s ten thousand parts. Who is going to keep track of those parts? I don’t think the DOJ has the database that will handle that,” said Morgan. They barely can handle the rifle and handgun stuff as well as the ammunition.”
Frankly, only an idiot would expect everyone to register homebuilt firearms in the first place. Even the most law-abiding citizens may fail to do so. After all, there’s a real fear of gun confiscation on the part of gun owners, especially these days. Registered firearms are likely to be what gets looked for by officials, so it’s not surprising that some would opt to not register weapons.
Of course, Newsom’s new law isn’t likely to stop anything.
You see, anyone with access to CNC equipment can manufacture the parts for a firearm of just about any kind they want. All you need are the necessary computer files, and the machine does the rest of the work. You don’t even need a special bit of equipment like Defense Distributed’s Ghost Gunner, really.
So how are you going to regulate that?
Easy. You can’t.
As per usual, laws are being put in place that won’t stop the truly unscrupulous. It’ll just make things difficult for the guys and gals looking to keep their families safe.