San Diego County

Growing law enforcement concerns over ghost gun encounters

The San Diego Association of Governments reported a more than 400% increase in ghost gun recovery in the county between 2019 and 2021

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Ghost guns used during police shootings appear to be a growing concern for law enforcement. NBC 7 has reported for years on the complex issue of tracking and regulating them.

The gun control and safety advocacy group Everytown calls ghost guns the fastest-growing gun safety problem.

This weekend in San Diego County, there were two police shootings on the same day. In one of those, Carlsbad police officers encountered a suspect with a ghost gun.

San Diego police detectives are investigating the incident and said the officers had noticed alcoholic drinks in a truck parked on a lot. When officers approached, at some point a 16-year-old passenger pulled a ghost gun from under the seat and officers then shot him in the arm, detectives said. He is recovering in a hospital.

NBC 7 requested to speak with the Carlsbad Police Department about ghost-gun occurrences and possible policies or strategies to address the growing problem but was declined an interview.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) reported a more than 400% increase in ghost gun recovery in the county between 2019 and 2021

Ghost guns, also called “privately made” guns, don’t have serial numbers or identifying marks and do not require background checks.

Both the city and county of San Diego have banned ghost guns. On a federal level, the ATF recently completed a three-month campaign aimed at reducing gun violence in San Diego County.

According to a press release, 82 of the 165 firearms found during that time were privately made and 29 people have been prosecuted.

Agents went undercover, conducted surveillance, scoured social media and more, during 88 operations.

The district attorney's office said there have been 16 police shootings in the county so far in 2023 and in at least two of those, the suspects had ghost guns.

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