On July 1, 2022, a new bill called AB 1621 took effect in California – part of aggressive state efforts to curb rising crime rates. AB 1621 specifically targets regulating sale and possession of DIY, privately made firearms lacking commercial serial numbers, referred to as ‘ghost guns’ by supporters.

The key component of California AB 1621 involves legally requiring all self-assembled or 3D printed guns contain government-validated serial numbers and that owners register them in the state database. Supporters like Governor Newsom argue adding traceability helps law enforcement track ghost guns increasingly appearing at crime scenes while hampering illegal weapon assembly.

However, while intended to impact public safety, AB 1621 faces pushback around effectively criminalizing legal hobbyists making firearms for personal use if they fail to engraft numbers. Opponents including licensed firearm dealers caution that this essentially bans citizens from making their own legal guns and may enable eventually confiscating legally purchased unserialized weapons in circulation, conflicting with Second Amendment protections.

The opposition further argues that California ghost gun restrictions predominantly impact law-abiding manufacturers and retailers while having little effect on actual illicit firearm supplies among violent criminals who intentionally avoid following laws. Time will tell if AB 1621 successfully reduces untraceable guns in the state through buyback programs and registration drives or if unintended consequences manifest instead.

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