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Chair Nathan Fletcher & Supervisor Lawson-Remer Are Taking Aim at Illegal Ghost Guns with New San Diego County Policy



County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer today introduce policies to prohibit untraceable “ghost guns” to be distributed or created in San Diego County; strengthens safe storage standards to better protect San Diegans; and proposed developing a community-based gun violence reduction program.


“We are bringing common-sense gun reforms to San Diego County,” said Chair Fletcher. “Unserialized guns are a clear and present danger that is impacting our communities; by regulating their use and production, we will save lives. Our inclusion of safe storage practices in this policy will protect gun owners, their families, and visitors; and by investing in gun violence prevention programs, our early intervention can protect individuals in our community from harm.”  

“These protections will save lives by targeting the manufacturers of untraceable ghost guns -- helping to make sure they don't fall into the wrong hands," said Supervisor Lawson-Remer. "As the mother of a toddler, I don’t want a future where she has to practice active shooter drills or where I live in dread of a text message saying her school is on lockdown. We have the power to change this, and it starts with approving these common-sense safety regulations."


The Board of Supervisors will vote on the policy to take ghost guns off the streets and disrupt the cycle of violence afflicting communities on Tuesday, October 19. It calls for creating an ordinance in the next 90 days to:


  • Update definitions regarding firearms as appropriate, including defining “ghost guns,” precursor parts for such guns and unserialized parts and guns, 
  • Prohibit the possession or distribution of unserialized parts used in the creation or possession of ghost guns,
  • Prohibit 3D printing of unserialized firearms or precursor parts, and 
  • Creates safe firearm storage standards.  


If the policy passes, staff will bring back to the Board options for community-based gun violence reduction and disruption programs.


Chair Fletcher during the press conference at the County Administration Center credited the leadership of San Diego Councilmember Marni von Wilpert who authored and passed “ghost gun” legislation in the city; and San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott for her trailblazing “safe storage” policy as the inspiration for the policy that was developed.


“Ghost guns are wreaking havoc in our communities and we need every level of government to act to close the ghost gun loophole,” said Councilmember von Wilpert. “Like we did in the City of San Diego, I am thankful that the County of San Diego is cracking down on untraceable, non-serialized firearms and firearm parts to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose danger to our communities—including violent criminals, domestic abusers, individuals suffering from mental illness, and terrorists.”


“My heart sinks each time I learn of an accidental shooting by a child who obtained a gun through the negligence of its owner,” City Attorney Elliott said. “My Office authored the City of San Diego’s Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance to protect San Diego families from such terrible tragedies. I thank Supervisor Fletcher and Supervisor Lawson-Remer for their leadership in preventing gun violence with this common-sense law establishing a gun owner’s responsibilities to safely secure firearms countywide.” 


Also in attendance at the press conference or supporting this initiative are several gun violence prevention advocacy groups, including Team Enough, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, Moms Demand Action, Shaphat Outreach, Dream Corps., March for Our Lives, Community Assistance Support Team, NeverAgainCA, Brady.


What Others Are Saying

“Thank you Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Lawson-Remer for seeking to address the gun violence epidemic in our San Diego region. Effective public safety policy requires a comprehensive gun violence reduction strategy. The  commitment to disrupting and preventing  gun violence begins today in San Diego County because of the work done here to create a comprehensive strategy to eliminate ghost guns, create safe firearm storage, and address community gun violence with solutions that are based in research, evidence-based practices, and extensive data.”—Bishop Cornelius Bowser, Director of Shaphat Outreach


“San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention applauds the actions being taken by Chair Fletcher and Supervisor Lawson-Remer to disrupt the cycle of violence in San Diego County.  This multi-pronged approach which addresses ghost guns, the safe storage of firearms, and violence intervention will not only make San Diego County safer but will also set an example for other counties and legislative bodies.   We are thrilled to see San Diego prioritizing gun violence prevention with a strategic vision and the collaboration of many voices.” Carole Landale, Executive Director, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention    


“California is leading the country in enacting needed, common-sense and effective bans on the sales of ghost gun kits - and San Diego is leading California,” said Stephen Lindley, Brady Program Manager and former Chief of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms. “Ghost guns are an existential threat to public safety and law and order, which is why we have seen localities, states, and the federal government urgently react to the proliferation of these untraceable weapons. Brady is proud to support San Diego County as it seeks to address this growing problem while enacting additional common-sense gun violence prevention policies that take a public health approach to ending gun violence.”


“I believe all young people of this city should all have the right to feel safe in their homes and communities. That’s why I commend this effort to use a comprehensive violence prevention plan that includes supporting local intervention groups that are helping kids break the cycle of violence.” - Jonny Santana, Team Enough


Rose Ann Sharp, Founder of NeverAgainCA said, “Those who profit from the proliferation of weapons have time and again refused to stop selling Ghost Guns despite the clear link between these weapons and the rise in shootings across our country and in San Diego.  Because they won’t act on their own, we are taking our own steps to protect our communities. These policies are essential to our efforts to end gun violence.


 “Never Again CA has been able to end the sale of guns and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  However, recently at the neighboring Orange County Fairgrounds, a spokesperson for Crossroads of the West Gun Shows has refused point-blank to commit to not permitting the sale of Ghost Guns at its December show. 


“We must not forget the recent incident in Chula Vista where a young boy was killed when his 15-year-old friend brought a gun from his home to a sleepover.  This Safe Storage policy for guns and ammunition sets the standard to help reduce the Children’s Defense Fund statistic* that 9 children and teens per day die from unsecured guns and gun violence.” 


Excerpts from the Policy 

“According to the Chief of Police, San Diego Police Department (SDPD), David Nisleit, “About one in four of every gun we’re recovering right now is a ghost gun."  For San Diego County, Sheriff Bill Gore reports seizing 36 non-serialized guns in 2019, 70 in 2020, and 133 through July of 2021.  The average for 2021 is 19 seizures per month, which could result in 228 seizures for the year. Sheriff Bill Gore further states, "Our greatest concern is the individuals we encounter in possession of these guns.  We find them to be persons who cannot lawfully own guns.”


“An alarming number of children and teens live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns and the overwhelming majority of these minors know where in the home the guns are kept.  


“In 2019, 117 children and teenagers were unintentionally killed with firearms, and approximately 1,167 children and teenagers committed suicide with firearms, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”


Taking “ghost guns” off the streets and disrupting the cycle of violence afflicting communities aligns with Chair Nathan Fletcher’s Framework for the Future of San Diego County. The Framework prioritizes communities and populations in San Diego that have been historically left behind. Through this Framework, Chair Fletcher is fighting for racial justice, health equity, economic opportunity, environmental protection, government transparency, and fundamental changes to county operations.