Ghost guns: SoCal law enforcement seeing sharp increase in weapons without serial numbers

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, July 22, 2022
Ghost guns becoming more prevalent in SoCal
Ghost-gun raids in Burbank and Riverside County highlight how prevalent the weapons with no serial numbers have become.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Weapons, tools, ammunition, money and narcotics found in a home. Officials say they were part of a ghost-gun manufacturing operation in Burbank.

And in Riverside County, sheriff's deputies found a cache of weapons: Un-serialized ghost guns, along with high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Thursday, the White House announced a plan to deal with crime and guns.

Stefanie Feldman, a White House policy advisor, says "These ghost-gun kits which you can buy online, put together in as little as 30 minutes and then have a lethal weapon without going through a background check."

The number of ghost guns keeps increasing. The Los Angeles Police Department says in 2020 it seized 813 ghost guns - that number more than doubled to 1921 last year.

And according to the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency, 30% of all firearms recovered in California as of 2019 did not have serial numbers.

"There's rarely a conversation I have with law enforcement where they don't tell us they are finding more and more of these ghost guns, which are unserialized firearms that are difficult to trace so it's hard to figure out who the shooter is and hold them accountable," says Feldman.

Officials say the suspect in Riverside, 43-year-old Steve Schultz, was manufacturing ghost guns at his home. His bail is set at $1 million.

In Los Angeles County, the suspect arrested for allegedly manufacturing guns, Eric Petrossian, has a long criminal rap sheet. He posted bail set at $50,000 and is reportedly out of jail.

Former LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says such a big difference in bail amounts is a concern.

"Basic math will tell tell you that a tremendous disincentive in one county and not so much in another... quite a discrepancy in a lot of different issues in how things are handled in the criminal justice system," says McDonnell.

On July 1 a new state law went into effect that requires parts used to build firearms to have serial numbers, and gives those who have weapons without serial numbers until 2024 to add the numbers and register them.