Suspect allegedly purchased gun parts from Russia
SAN LUIS OBISPO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of a suspect and the seizure of a large cache of illegal ghost guns, ghost gun kits, assault weapons, machine guns, and ammunition from the suspect’s residence in San Luis Obispo. The suspect is accused of using cut-up machine gun parts ordered from Russia to create illegal ghost guns — or unserialized and untraceable firearms — at his residence in San Luis Obispo. The suspect faces multiple felony firearm charges.
“Firearms built at home by individuals who have not passed a background check and have not had their guns properly serialized leave law enforcement in the dark and endanger our communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We cannot stand idly by as children and families keep losing their lives to more tragedies caused by ghost guns. My office will continue to work actively every single day to end this gun violence epidemic and keep Californians safe.”
The arrest and seizure were carried out by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) on October 3, 2022. Special Agents from the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms served a search warrant at the suspect’s San Luis Obispo residence and found 16 unregistered assault weapons, five unserialized ghost gun AK-style machine guns, 45 AK-style unserialized ghost gun machine gun kits with several stamped “Made in Russia,” two silencers, one unregistered .50 caliber BMG rifle, 420 large-capacity magazines, and approximately 150 rounds of ammunition.
California law mandates that anyone who possesses, manufactures, or assembles lawful firearms in the state apply to the DOJ for a unique serial number for each of their self-made firearms.
The suspect was arrested on the charges of possession of a silencer, possession of a machine gun, importing large capacity magazines, possession of a .50 BMG Rifle, possession of an assault weapon, and manufacture of an assault weapon. DOJ is prosecuting the case.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint, once filed, contains charges that must be proven in a court of law. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
Ghost gun kits, which commonly contain various parts of a firearm and the instructions or tools to assemble them, can be sold by unlicensed sellers and later made into untraceable firearms at home in less than 30 minutes.
Untraceable ghost guns have been used in multiple tragedies in California. In March 2022, a shooter who was banned from possessing guns killed his three children, a chaperone and himself at a church in Sacramento. In 2019, two Saugus High School students were killed and three were injured by a 16-year-old student using a ghost gun assembled from a kit. In November 2017, five people were killed and eight injured at multiple locations, including an elementary school, in Rancho Tehama Reserve. The shooter used homemade ghost guns and unregistered firearms. In June 2013, a shooter killed five people on and around the Santa Monica College campus using an AR-15-style ghost gun rifle.
Law enforcement agencies throughout California have expressed their concern for the growing trend of unregistered and untraceable ghost guns. The number of illegal ghost guns seized by law enforcement agencies throughout California has continued to rise drastically year after year. In 2015, law enforcement agencies in California seized a total of 26 ghost guns. By 2021, that number has increased to 12,388.
The rise of ghost guns also impacts the work of DOJ. For example, DOJ reported a nearly 44% increase in ghost guns seized as part of DOJ’s efforts to remove guns from prohibited persons in the Armed and Prohibited Persons System Database.
Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety. Attorney General Bonta is addressing this issue strategically and aggressively by: