California High School Gunman Used ‘Ghost Gun’ in Mass Shooting

Ghost guns are assembled from parts, can’t be traced and are legally sold at gun shows and online.

California High School Gunman Used ‘Ghost Gun’ in Mass Shooting

The 16-year-old male student who shot his classmates Nov. 14 used a gun that was not registered and was built from parts.

The .45-caliber semi-automatic used during the school shooting was described by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva as a “kit gun,” reports Reuters and KABC. Another kit gun was found at the suspect’s house when law enforcement searched it. Firearms that are assembled from parts are called “ghost guns” or “80% guns,” are untraceable and are legally sold at gun shows and online.  They account for one-third of all guns seized in southern California, reports CBS News.

“ATF can’t go shut down the people who are selling these parts because these parts are not regulated,” ATF’s Ginger Colburn explained to CBS when asked why the bureau doesn’t put a stop to the sales of these kits. “It’s really up to those companies to be responsible. They’re the ones that are going to have to live with themselves…There’s nothing the ATF can do.”

Authorities are not sure if the shooter, identified as Nathanial Berhow, assembled the gun used in the school shooting himself. His father, who died two years ago, owned six guns, but those firearms were confiscated and destroyed.

The shooting happened at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. Berhow shot five of his classmates, two of whom died as a result of their injuries. Berhow then took his own life after he had used up all but one of the bullets in his gun. The entire attack took 16 seconds.

Authorities still don’t know the motive behind the shooting, which Berhow carried out on his 16th birthday.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

2 responses to “California High School Gunman Used ‘Ghost Gun’ in Mass Shooting”

  1. Rick says:

    Irresponsible reporting. 80% lowers are unfinished firearms and are legal to sell; they are not completed firearms. It is illegal to finish one of these as someone who is under 21. It is also illegal for someone to finish one and not get a serial number from the state of CA beforehand. So, once again, existing laws did not stop someone from committing a crime, just like drunk driving laws do not stop someone from driving drunk; we hold the drunk accountable by locking them up. We do not prohibit cars from being sold, owned or driven, nor do we lock up cars in prison, but we hold the drunk accountable. In this case, the perp is dead and will not be accountable to the criminal justice system. Tracing firearms only tells you the legal owners; it does not tell you who stole the gun and committed crimes with it since it was stolen.

  2. Rick, great point. Additionally the latest US Secret Service report points out that 39% of the school killing were done with knives/edged weapons or other non-firearms weapons.

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