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Criminal Justice

DA Gascón Asks Credit Card Companies To Reject Ghost Gun Sales

A police offer holds a gun in front of a cop car.
A Los Angeles Police Department officer holds recovered guns at a "Gun Buy Back" event on December 5, 2020, aimed at reducing gun violence.
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón is calling on credit card companies to block online payments for homemade "ghost guns."

Ghost guns are entirely untraceable. There are no serial numbers, and they can be purchased from illegal online marketplaces with zero regulations. The use of these guns are on the rise in L.A., according to police.

The progressive district attorney says current efforts to crack down on the use of ghost guns have been ineffective, but "if we go after the business model through the credit card processors like American Express, Visa and MasterCard, we can basically put almost a complete stop to the trade online."

Gascón says there's precedent for this proposed cutoff; credit companies were quick to sever ties with Backpage over sex trafficking allegations.

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L.A. saw a 400% increase in ghost gun seizures between 2020 and 2021, according to Gascón. He says LAPD confiscated about 1800 untraceable firearms within the first ten months of last year.

"So you may have a minor, you might have someone with mental health prohibitions and they can purchase these things," he said. "They're very inexpensive and easy to put together."

And according to Gascón, that contributed to a recent rise in homicides in L.A. County. He adds that ghost guns contributed to 24 homicides between January and October 2021.

Gascón links the untraceable weapons to the rise in violence. Still, he doesn't think stopping the sale of ghost guns will stop all violence in L.A. County.

"Dealing with violence in our community is going to be a multi-prong approach," he said.

And going after the guns would have "a substantial impact on the safety of our community."

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