Officials have confirmed that the weapon used in the Saugus High School shooting was a so-called “ghost gun,” a homemade firearm without a registration number.
The gunman has been identified as a 16-year-old Saugus High School student who used a handgun to shoot five students, killing two classmates.
Law enforcement sources told KPCC/LAist and The Trace that the weapon— a 45-caliber model 1911 pistol— may have been put together using parts that were acquired without a background check. They also recovered six weapons registered to the shooter’s late father.
Almost one-third of weapons recovered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are homemade, say officials with the agency. Because these guns are not registered, they are nearly impossible to track.
In response to the growing presence of ghost guns, the state has turned to more regulation. Under a bill passed back in 2016, homemade guns in California are required to obtain a serial number through the California Department of Justice. Similarly, a bill signed into law in October requires background eligibility checks for people who want to purchase firearm parts.
So what exactly are ghost guns? What makes them different and what kind of challenges do they pose? We discuss.
Steve Lindley, program manager in Los Angeles for Brady United Against Gun Violence, a non-profit advocacy group; he’s the former bureau chief for the California Department of Justice (2009-2018)
Matthew Larosiere, director of legal policy at the Sacramento-based gun rights organization, Firearms Policy Coalition