The Los Angeles County District Attorney urged major credit card companies in a letter on Tuesday to block the purchase of ghost gun kits, which allow a buyer to build a gun from scratch without a traceable serial number.
“American Express, Mastercard and Visa have the ability to go beyond what any law enforcement agency, legislature or city council can accomplish,” George Gascón said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are asking these companies to join us in stemming the flow of ghost guns into our communities by preventing a ghost gun kit from being sold with a few mere clicks on a smartphone or computer.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore and San Gabriel Police Chief Gene Harris joined Gascon’s call for credit card companies to enact policies to support gun control.
“It is well documented and beyond dispute that the proliferation of ghost guns has had a debilitating effect on our country, our state and our county,” the LADA’s statement read. “By prohibiting online payments for ghost guns, the credit card agencies can take meaningful steps to improve public safety.”
Gascon highlighted previous actions taken by credit card companies to crack down on societal issues.
“In 2015, the credit card companies banded together to cease allowing their networks to be used for processing payments on backpage.com, which was accused of facilitating sex trafficking. Since 2017, the number of ghost guns seized by the Los Angeles Police Department has increased by approximately 400 percent and the trend is accelerating. During 2020, LAPD recovered 813 ghost guns,” his statement explained.
“During the first 11 months of 2021, the amount recovered more than doubled to 1,780. Last August, LAPD reported that ghost guns accounted for 33 percent of all guns it recovered in suspected criminal activity,” Gascon continued.
He argued that ghost guns have largely contributed to the recent “sharp rise in violent crime” in Los Angeles.
“LAPD reported that as of August 2021, homicides had increased by 25 percent from the previous year and that shootings with victims hit by gunfire have increased by 35 percent. During the first 10 months of 2021, LAPD reported that ghost guns had been used in 24 murders, eight attempted murders, 60 assaults with deadly weapons and 20 armed robberies,” his statement concluded.
Last year, President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a proposed change to the legal definitions of “firearms” in an effort to subject more firearms parts to background checks and serial number tracking. It would be the first update to the “firearms” definition since 1968.
According to a notice from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the DOJ seeks to amend the definitions of “firearm” to “clarify when a firearms parts kit is considered a ‘firearm,’” and “help close a regulatory loophole associated with [homemade guns].”