CA Republican wants harsher penalties for "ghost guns"

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Unserialized firearms, often called “ghost guns” by politicians and the media, are much vilified these days despite accounting for only a tiny fraction of the total number of firearms used in criminal acts.


It’s a popular target because it’s scary. A gun that’s made completely outside the system, one that criminals can make on their own and bypass all the gun control we’ve put in place? That’s horrifying to tons of ordinary Americans who know little about how criminals actually arm themselves.

To them, a ghost gun represents a horrific situation.

But the truth is that we’ll have such firearms with us now and forever. We’re an industrious nation, after all.

In California, the desire to restrict these firearms is strong. Apparently, even Republicans want in on the action.

A Republican Assemblymember is balancing gun control and public safety in a bill she’s working through the legislature this year.

Diane Dixon, who represents the coastal AD-72, is behind a bill that enhances penalties for people who use or possess a firearm without a valid serial number — otherwise known as a “ghost gun” — while committing a crime.

A person could be subjected to two additional years of imprisonment if a ghost gun is in their possession at the time a felony is committed or three years if it is used to commit or attempt to commit a felony.

“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and yet we still experience tragic mass shootings every year,” Dixon said. “I’m pro-Second Amendment, but I believe there is an area not fully addressed or covered by existing law.”


With friends like her, who needs enemas, right?

Now, in fairness to Dixon, this only seems to address “ghost guns” used in criminal acts, not those simply made for personal use or whatever. As such, this is really just another charge to throw at someone already facing a pile of charges.

That’s a little different than what we typically see from the anti-gun crowd.

However, this effort ignores a key part of what goes on in the criminal mind. They aren’t deterred by these potential penalties because none of them figure on getting caught in the first place.

No, these aren’t master criminals, but they all think they are. They think they can safely knock over a liquor store and never be caught despite not wearing a mask, parking their car so a camera gets a good view of their license plate, and so on.

As such, they’re not going to be deterred by additional penalties because each and every one is sure they won’t be arrested in the first place.

If the purpose is to just remove them from society for a bit longer, that’s one thing, but it won’t actually accomplish anything beyond that.


What it will do, though, is contribute to the demonization of unserialized firearms. It’ll be an example of how Republicans secretly all believe that guns are the problem but won’t address it due to the NRA.

It doesn’t matter that none of that is true. It doesn’t have to be. This isn’t about the truth but about politics where optics are everything and this one isn’t going to play well in the long run.

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