LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The increasing prevalence of so-called “ghost guns” is among the Los Angeles Police Department’s most pressing challenges in confronting a rise in crime, Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging presentation to commissioners, Moore also reported an overall 7% increase in violent crime compared to this time last year — and a 13% spike over the last two years.
Overall, he told commissioners, the homicide rate so far this year is flat compared to last year, with 199 homicides in 2022 as of last Saturday, compared to 198 at the same time last year. That includes 35 homicides during the last four weeks, a drop from 47 during the same period last year.
Still, Moore said, he takes “no solace” in the year-to-year homicide numbers remaining even — because shooting violence in 2021 was at a 15- year high.
Seventy-two percent of shootings involving officers this year included subjects who also had a firearm, the highest percentage since 2011, he said.
But ghost guns — privately assembled weapons that are untraceable and unregistered — are among his department’s biggest concerns, Moore stressed.
Of the over 3,500 firearms that have been booked into the LAPD this year, more than 20 percent, or 754, were ghost guns, he said. He added that, as recently as a few years ago, ghost guns would have made up fewer than 150 of those weapons.
In addition, he said, of the 13 shootings so far this year involving officers in which a firearm was present, eight involved ghost guns. That rate is up from four out of 10 in such incidents last year, he said. Moore did not specify how the officers were involved in the shootings.
“This continues to point out the severity and significance of prevalence of ghost guns that we’re seeing across our community,” Moore said.
“Our efforts in confronting these dangerous situations is continuing to stress training and development and expectation of our people, to stress de- escalation and find alternatives to the use of deadly force.”
Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff said during Tuesday’s meeting that the widely available information online on how to assemble a ghost gun was “disgustingly stunning.”
“You can build them for yourself. You can buy the components. They’re untraceable,” Soboroff said. “Just these incredible websites.”
Moore said he was grateful for California’s strict gun laws, but said the state has its challenges, especially with recent Supreme Court decision upending state restrictions on guns. He added that he is working with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón and Mayor Eric Garcetti on a petition to urge credit card companies to cut off ghost gun sales.
“I’m hopeful that will take an incremental step, an impediment for that appetite [to get] these weapons off our streets,” Moore said.
In other news, Moore also reported that between 100 and 150 officers have left their jobs this year.
He said there are currently 9,280 sworn LAPD officers, and that the department hired 240 personnel over the last six months, with a goal of staffing up to over 9,700 officers.
But the attrition rate has remained the same as pre-pandemic levels, keeping the staffing totals well under the high of 10,000 three years ago, according to Moore.
“We need to hire sufficient personnel to not just beat attrition but to restore and rebuild the organization [to where it was three years ago],” Moore said.