By Jun Nucum
SAN BRUNO – The County of San Mateo has gathered together top experts at the San Mateo County Regional Operations Center (ROC) to brainstorm on ways to keep firearms out of the hands of persons barred from possessing or using them wrongly.
In the event “Keeping Firearms Out of the Hands of Prohibited Persons: Focus on Ghost Guns, Restraining Orders” hosted by San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley and Vice President Dave Pine and the Giffords Law Center, the participants focused on challenges posed by ghost guns – untraceable firearms – and how to maximize use of restraining orders and the California Department of Justice Armed and Prohibited Persons System.
Among those who shared their views were Representative Jackie Speier, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, SMC DA Steve Wagstaffe, and Julia Weber, Implementation Director of the Giffords Law Center with California Attorney General Rob Bonta delivering the keynote address.
In her speech, Speier reiterates her belief that there is nothing that the San Mateo County, where she belongs, cannot do when it puts its mind to it.
“Guns are part of the culture we had for the longest time and will continue to be. There are more guns 393 million guns in this country than there are more people,” Speier noted.
“And we have gaping holes in the background check law. We did not have the internet when the first laws were passed. Now we have the internet, person-to-person sales and now we have the ghost guns and now buy parts with ghost guns together,” Speier added.
She also reported that every town has estimated that there has been a minimum of 300,000 people who have purchased guns without background check during the pandemic. . .
Attorney General Rob Bonta lamented that lockdowns in school happened in too many town, too many places throughout the country resulting to many of children impacted by gun violence either directly or someone they love.
“They deserve to walk the road that is better, safer than the one they currently are in not just in the classrooms, their neighborhoods, communities, towns and cities. The people just don’t deserve safety. They are demanding it. They march for our lives That is a very powerful and inspirational act of many young people in our country,” Bonta emphasized.
In an interview later, Bonta recounted that the issue on ghost guns has been an issue for a number of years but is relatively recent and there is a need to rise to the occasion.
“It is a new challenge, threat when it comes to gun violence. Those guns are those we don’t know about that many California laws do not apply like a background check, a gun safety check, serial number, someone with a credit card and an internet connection can purchase component parts and have it. They don’t have a serial number and are prohibited from having it. It is a high risk and very dangerous development,” Bonta decried. “We need to get on it with stricter regulations that will require background checks and serialization.” .
Bonta also admitted that advancement in technology somehow has a downside in that it is making guns available to more people some of whom should not have guns and are either prohibited and/or will be using them specifically to violate the law and commit a crime.
“On the other side, development in technology can help us in our efforts to take steps in gun safety in our community in identifying red flags, in coming up with data bases and other inputs to hopefully identify the next mass shooting incidents before it happens, among others,” added Bonta.
He expressed regrets that there is no database of information on ghost guns as these guns are under the radar although the number of incidents with the use of those guns in the acts of violence in California has been alarming.
“There is no report on specifics on particular cities or places as we have seen them everywhere. Whether be it in the Central Valley, Southern California, San Diego, Bay Area, Sacramento, we got those guns in all of them. We see them everywhere,” Bonta detailed.
As to views that California laws have been tough on gun ownership, Bonta reminded that “California has both successfully honored constitutional right under the second amendment for responsible gun owners to own guns, for sporting, hunting and self-defense and taking appropriate common sense constitutionally complying steps to keep people safe from gun violence.”
“We are on striking the right balance. Our laws have been upheld in court and they have also undeniably saved lives. We do have the strongest commonsense gun laws in the nation. We are honoring the second amendment. If more states did what California has done, we’d all be safer,” Bonta said.