Ghost guns are haunting Sacramento streets

Ghost guns continue to pop up at an alarming rate in Sacramento — and police admit it’s hard to know how many of them are actually on the streets.”It’s frustrating at times when you find one and take it off the street and 10 more come up the next day,” said an undercover Sacramento police detective. A ghost gun is an unregistered gun that can be bought online and made at home, which makes it untraceable. “They just don’t exist until the person who made that gun or manufactured that gun built it,” the detective added.Technology is making it easier than ever to build a ghost gun. In fact, you can order mostly made gun kits that can avoid legal loopholes.”Currently, if you find them on the internet, you can have the whole kit ordered and shipped to your house without any background check,” the detective said.The gun kits are called Polymer 80s. That’s because the kit comes with a gun that is 80% finished. The kit has simple instructions to finish it off. Right now, the kits are legal to buy, but when put together, have to be federally registered. Police say most aren’t.”The firearms themselves aren’t the issue,” the detective added. “It’s what the person purchasing the firearms are intending to do with it.”Sacramento police showed KCRA 3 different types of ghost guns taken off the streets. They come in all shapes and sizes and most have a switch added to them that turns them into fully automatic machine guns.”It’s been really scary to see,” Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said. “We’ve all been doing this job for a long time and I can tell you for the first time in my career I’ve never seen these many guns on the streets in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”In 2019, Sacramento police recovered 73 ghost guns. In 2020, 196 were taken off the street, but last year it doubled to 410. “If you are intent on manufacturing an illegal firearm, it’s really not difficult to do and that’s one of the biggest challenges,” Lester added.In April, President Joe Biden announced new regulations for the Polymer 80 kits. Starting August 24, the kits will be treated as firearms and a federal background check will be done at purchase. Rod Norgaard is the chief deputy with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. He, too, is seeing more cases than ever involving ghost guns.”The person who wants an unregistered firearm is typically a felon,” Norgaard said. “I will always be focused as a prosecutor on the person and not the firearm.”Norgaard believes the issue lies in the laws. He would like to see strikes given to felons who are carrying ghost guns.”No one knows the law better than felons,” Norgaard added. “The career felon knows the law very well and if they know that getting caught with a gun means you ‘re going to prison for a significant time then they are going to act accordingly I do think it is important that legislature, the lawmakers and policymakers don’t back down on these ghost guns, but they do have to focus on the source the bad people who use them.”

Ghost guns continue to pop up at an alarming rate in Sacramento — and police admit it’s hard to know how many of them are actually on the streets.

“It’s frustrating at times when you find one and take it off the street and 10 more come up the next day,” said an undercover Sacramento police detective.

A ghost gun is an unregistered gun that can be bought online and made at home, which makes it untraceable.

“They just don’t exist until the person who made that gun or manufactured that gun built it,” the detective added.

Technology is making it easier than ever to build a ghost gun. In fact, you can order mostly made gun kits that can avoid legal loopholes.

“Currently, if you find them on the internet, you can have the whole kit ordered and shipped to your house without any background check,” the detective said.

The gun kits are called Polymer 80s. That’s because the kit comes with a gun that is 80% finished. The kit has simple instructions to finish it off.

Right now, the kits are legal to buy, but when put together, have to be federally registered. Police say most aren’t.

“The firearms themselves aren’t the issue,” the detective added. “It’s what the person purchasing the firearms are intending to do with it.”

Sacramento police showed KCRA 3 different types of ghost guns taken off the streets. They come in all shapes and sizes and most have a switch added to them that turns them into fully automatic machine guns.

“It’s been really scary to see,” Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said. “We’ve all been doing this job for a long time and I can tell you for the first time in my career I’ve never seen this many guns on the streets in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”

In 2019, Sacramento police recovered 73 ghost guns. In 2020, 196 were taken off the street, but last year it doubled to 410.

“If you are intent on manufacturing an illegal firearm, it’s really not difficult to do and that’s one of the biggest challenges,” Lester added.

In April, President Joe Biden announced new regulations for the Polymer 80 kits. Starting August 24, the kits will be treated as firearms and a federal background check will be done at purchase.

Rod Norgaard is the chief deputy with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. He, too, is seeing more cases than ever involving ghost guns.

“The person who wants an unregistered firearm is typically a felon,” Norgaard said. “I will always be focused as a prosecutor on the person and not the firearm.”

Norgaard believes the issue lies in the laws. He would like to see strikes given to felons who are carrying ghost guns.

“No one knows the law better than felons,” Norgaard added. “The career felon knows the law very well and if they know that getting caught with a gun means you’re going to prison for a significant time then they are going to act accordingly. I do think it is important that legislature, the lawmakers and policymakers don’t back down on these ghost guns, but they do have to focus on the source the bad people who use them.”

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