A fully automatic “ghost gun” was found in the possession of a California man arrested on Sunday for reckless driving.
Luis Angel Varela, 21, of Santa Rosa was pulled over by a police sergeant in the early hours on Sunday after he was caught doing “donuts” in his car, CBS News reported. A subsequent search of his car yielded a 9mm polymer ghost gun, capable of fully automatic fire, and with a high-capacity magazine capable of holding 30 rounds. Despite resembling a handgun, its automatic capabilities met the legal definition of a machine gun.
The term “ghost gun” refers to any firearm that can be purchased as a kit, usually online, and assembled at home. Its name derives from the fact that they are untraceable, unlike traditional firearms, lacking any sort of serial number and therefore posing a considerable predicament for law enforcement.
Following his arrest, Varela was booked into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Center. He currently faces a litany of charges, including possession of a loaded unregistered firearm, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended driver’s license. Due to the ghost gun’s fully automatic capabilities, he also faces charges of possession of a machine gun and its conversion, manufacture, or sale of a machine gun. His vehicle was also impounded for 30 days.
Newsweek reached out to the Santa Rosa Police Department for comment.
Due to the distinct threat they pose, ghost guns have come under heavy scrutiny by gun control advocates and politicians. Last year, President Joe Biden signed executive orders meant to implement new measures in the wake of several mass shootings, including a crack down on ghost guns.
“We are experiencing a growing problem: criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes,” a statement released by the White House at the time said. “When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number. The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of these firearms.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives last month passed the Protecting Our Kids Act following a 223-204 vote, with five Republicans breaking partisan lines to vote in favor of it. Introduced by Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York in the wake of more mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the bill includes a provision that would outlaw ghost guns.
As of Sunday, the bill awaits a vote before the Senate.
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