The phrase “ghost guns” may bring to mind phantom Wild West shoot-outs or supernatural weapons, but the true meaning tells a far different story.
The term refers to firearms that are constructed at home without a federal serial number, making them unregistered and untraceable for regulators.
In recent months, Ventura County law enforcement officials have noted a rise in the number of these types of firearms, although statistical data was not readily available.
“Anecdotally, looking at some of the cases that I see, particularly the units I oversee, we’ve definitely seen an increase on the street,” said Cmdr. Tim Kelley, who manages special operations for the Oxnard Police Department.
Capt. Eric Buschow, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, said ghost guns pose a problem for law enforcement because they circumvent most firearm regulations, making it easier for criminals to acquire.
“To own a gun in the state of California, you have to go through a background check, you have to buy it from a licensed firearm dealer, and the gun has to be registered, so it has to have a serial number,” Buschow said. “If you’re a felon, you can’t legally buy a gun, but now you can buy all the components you need.”