Attorney General Bonta Provides Remarks on Biden Administration Rule to Protect the Public from Ghost Guns

Monday, April 11, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

WASHINGTON, D.C.— California Attorney General Rob Bonta provided the following remarks during a press call with Giffords Law Center on the Biden Administration's announcement of a new rule to protect the public from ghost guns (Audio here):

"This is a hard-fought victory for public safety. I am immensely proud of my team at the California Department of Justice, our partners at Giffords Law Center — and all the leaders and organizations that advocated for this rule.  

We never do it alone. We always get the best results, the best outcomes when we work together. This is an example of that. 

In 2019, we sued the Trump Administration to ensure the ATF did exactly what they announced today. 

In 2021, when the Biden Administration announced this proposed rule, we affirmed our support. 

And today, our collective forceful advocacy for public safety — it's paid off. This final rule marks an important return in federal leadership, so important, so needed, to stem the tide of ghost guns. 

This couldn’t have come at a more urgent moment. 

In California, violent crime remains far below historical highs, but in 2020, gun deaths accounted for 91% of the rise in murders. 

Our state may have one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the nation, but it is clear the wide availability of ghost guns is a serious threat to public safety. We’re seeing these instruments of death used in crimes at an unacceptably skyrocketing pace.

For example:

In San Francisco, roughly half of the guns recovered in homicide cases are ghost guns. Roughly half of the mothers, fathers, children — little boys and girls — murdered in the city are killed by a bullet fired from a ghost gun. 

In Los Angeles, the number of ghost guns seized by police has increased by approximately 400 percent since just 2017. 

Los Angeles police now estimate that ghost guns account for one-third of all firearms used in crimes — from robberies to retail theft, murder to other street crimes. 

And don’t think this is just limited to our cities. Rural to urban, coastal to inland, you can’t talk about crime without talking about gun violence and ghost guns. Everywhere you look, these weapons are more and more prevalent, unfortunately at an alarming rate. 

This is dangerous for law enforcement. It's dangerous for our community members, the public at large. When firearms are built at home by individuals who have not passed a background check and have not had their guns properly serialized, it leaves law enforcement in the dark.

But today, thanks to the leadership of the Biden Administration, a large swath of ghost guns are being moved out of the unregulated shadows and into the light. 

We are grateful. While the federal government has failed in recent years, prior to the new administration, to take bold leadership, California has been leading the charge when it comes to regulating ghost guns. 

In fact, we have our own law aimed at stemming the tide of ghost guns, set to go into effect this summer. 

But without similar regulations in all 50 states, these guns have easily found their way into our borders and into the hands of those who would do harm to others. That’s the biggest impact of the ATF’s announcement — it provides a clear, nationwide rule. 

This rule will help stop the flow of ghost guns into California. It will help us fight crime. It will make all of us safer. 

So again, we’re grateful to the Biden Administration for stepping up. And at the California DOJ, we will continue to stand up for public safety by cracking down on the surge of ghost guns. 

That is why — alongside our partners at Giffords Law Center — we continue our lawsuit against three major ghost gun retailers — holding them accountable for selling kits that produce untraceable guns that fail to meet California firearms safety standards. 

That is why we continue to seize ghost guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals when we uncover them during our Armed and Prohibited Persons System enforcement work and other investigations.

And that is why we are continuing to defend and enforce all of our gun safety laws in court — and advance new ones in the Legislature.

In America, we have to be clear: We have a gun problem. We have a ghost gun problem. And we must continue to take action in response. 

Every day, more than 100 people are shot and killed. And more and more, people are being shot and killed by a bullet fired from a ghost gun.  

California has been at the forefront of the fight against this surge of violence — and we are pleased and thankful to see this new rule, which will bring federal law up to speed with our efforts. It will make all of us safer."

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