California’s ‘Ghost Guns’ a Ghost Scare?

Ghost GunCalifornia has a new scare: ‘ghost guns.’ These are basically firearms for which plans can be downloaded from the internet and the parts assembled, using a 3D printer. From a basic viewpoint of law and order, this is a frightening situation; untraceable guns that can pass through metal detectors.

In the Clint Eastwood 1993 film, In The Line of Fire, John Malkovich’s character assembles a small handgun using plastic modeling parts, from which he smuggled into a function, past metal detectors, in order to assassinate the president. Now, in the 21st century, what took meticulous planning and construction of a ‘plastic gun’ can be done with blueprints and a 3D printer.

California state senator Kevin de Leon is spearheading an effort in California to require that guns assembled using a 3D printer be registered and the owner undergo an extensive background check. He says these ‘ghost guns’ are completely unknown until a crime has been committed. Such a gun was involved in the June shooting rampage in Santa Monica that killed 5 people. The shooter allegedly downloaded the blueprints and constructed the gun at home after being refused a permit, citing mental health issues.

So, the real scare is the potential for hundreds of these untraceable guns to flood the streets, putting the public at extreme risk. However, just how feasible is that? For one thing, 3D printers aren’t exactly cheap. They are highly specialized manufacturing machines that have not yet reached the level of consumerism as normal printers have, although the technology has existed since the 1980’s. Still, if someone is allegedly deliberate and premeditated as the Santa Monica shooter had been really wanted to build an untraceable gun specifically to be used in a crime, no amount of legislature is going to prevent that. History is full of situations such as Columbine, Sandy Hook and Santa Monica. Domestic disputes gone bad, angry teens with guns, gang violence, armed disgruntled employees, road rage incidents and the like.

Many perceive this latest ‘ghost gun’ scare as California once again attempting gun control through legislature, trying to circumvent the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The text of the amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Back then, times were simpler, actual physical frontiers existed, necessitating the need for people to bear arms and the threat of British control and the need for a free country were also strong factors. In the 200 plus years since, things have gotten a bit more complicated and likely nothing our founding fathers ever anticipated. Families killing one another. Kids killing kids. Kids killing grownups. Grownups killing each other over matters as trivial as being looked at wrong. People being killed over possessions. People angry at the world or former employers or the neighbors’ constantly barking dog going on killing sprees.

Now, it’s ghost guns, taking the ‘proliferation of guns’ scare to a whole new level. Untraceable weapons you can make at home without having to register them. California is likely just the tip of the iceberg of the ghost gun scare with no easy solutions. One thing is likely; if the actual gun manufacturers start seeing profits drop due to people making their own guns, they might consider stepping in with some real gun control solutions. An extreme, yes, but exactly how far off is that possibility?

Editorial by Lee Birdine

Bearing Arms
CBS Sacramento