Press Release

Sen. Blakespear Introduces Bills to Close Gun Buyback Loophole, Reduce Gun Trafficking

SB 1019 ensures firearms surrendered in gun buybacks are completely destroyed, SB 1038 tightens rules designed to limit gun trafficking 

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, introduced two bills on Tuesday designed to reduce gun trafficking and ensure that firearms turned in as part of gun-buyback programs or confiscated by law enforcement during investigations are completely destroyed.

Currently, parts of guns that are acquired in gun-buyback programs or collected by law enforcement in investigations are sometimes resold online as part of gun kits. Such kits can easily be paired with an unserialized frame or receiver to create a “ghost” gun for those wanting to evade detection. SB 1019 puts a stop to this practice and requires the firearms to be entirely demolished.

SB 1038 tightens restrictions aimed at eliminating gun trafficking by increasing scrutiny of gun dealer inventory, improving recordkeeping and reducing the time required for people to report lost or stolen firearms from five days to 48 hours.

The new legislation complements two other bills Sen. Blakespear has authored or co-authored, SB 899 and SB 1002, to improve implementation – and the effectiveness – of current gun safety laws.

“It’s astonishing and downright dangerous that parts of guns confiscated by law enforcement or provided in gun buybacks are resold,” said Sen. Blakespear. “SB 1019 eliminates this practice and ensures that guns meant to be taken out of circulation are, in fact, destroyed as originally intended by law.”

Because of how the law presently defines firearms, guns are legally “destroyed” when the serialized frame or receiver of a gun is destroyed. All of the things that make a gun a gun – the barrel, grip, slide, firing pin and magazine – do not have to be demolished under current law.

As the New York Times reported in December, those other parts of guns turned into gun-buyback programs often end up being resold online for gun kits. In one instance, in Flint, Mich., the guns “made their way to a private company that has collected millions of dollars taking firearms from police agencies, destroying a single piece of each weapon stamped with the serial number and selling the rest as nearly complete gun kits,” the story said.

SB 1019 is supported by Brady.

“Gun buybacks are a viable way to remove firearms from circulation, but these programs also need to be reliable,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady. “Recent reporting from the New York Times uncovered gross misconduct by vendors who were supposed to dismantle firearms and instead gave them new life in the secondary arms market. Senator Catherine Blakespear has taken an important step towards preventing such egregious practices by introducing the Ensuring Destruction of Firearms Bill. Brady commends this legislation for its potential to not only improve buyback best practices but also restore community faith that surrendered weapons will not cycle back into California’s communities.” 

Today, there are more firearms than people and more dealers than all McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s restaurants combined in the United States. Considering the number of firearms circulating throughout the country, it is not surprising that many firearms are lost, stolen, or end up associated with a crime.

SB 1038 helps reduce gun trafficking through four main provisions. It requires lost or stolen guns to be reported within 48 hours instead of five days, licensed firearm dealers to annually certify their inventories to local law enforcement, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to inspect the top 25 gun dealers each year and gun dealers to report to DOJ acquisitions from manufacturers and wholesalers.

“We all know that guns that are lost or stolen often end up in the hands of criminals,” Sen. Blakespear said. “SB 1038 improves reporting and oversight to limit gun trafficking and better track stolen and lost firearms.”

SB 1038 is backed by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention.

“Although restraining orders and other laws disarm dangerous individuals, we must do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who should never have them in the first place,” said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. “I am proud to co-sponsor this measure with Senator Blakespear because it will play a critical role in tracking firearms that are lost or stolen. This common-sense safety measure will further our efforts to save lives from preventable gun violence.”  

“Irresponsible gun dealers are violent criminals' best friend," said Therese Hymer, a board member of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention. "Sen. Blakespear’s SB 1038 will help law enforcement hold them accountable and keep trafficked firearms out of our neighborhoods.”

In addition to SB 1019 and SB 1038, Sen. Blakespear has joined with Sen. Nancy Skinner this year to author SB 899, which would improve the implementation of California’s Red Flag laws.

Sen. Blakespear has also introduced SB 1002, legislation to improve the implementation of a law designed to keep guns out of the hands of people experiencing mental health crises and reduce the risk of gun violence.

Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.