MONTEREY — A Monterey man was arrested last week on suspicion of carrying a handgun dubbed a “ghost gun” because they are nearly impossible to trace.
Benjamin Gogarty, 49, of Monterey was arrested Feb. 11 on suspicion of possessing an undetectable firearm, possession of an unloaded firearm in a vehicle and possession of methamphetamine, among other charges.
Gogarty was booked into Monterey County Jail but released back onto the street with no bail because Monterey County is one of at least 31 counties that has what’s called an Emergency Bail Schedule adopted by the state in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in jails, according to the California Judicial Council.
The Bail Schedule was repealed in June 2020 when businesses began to reopen but was subsequently reinstated when COVID-19 cases surged again.
The incident began at 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 11 when Monterey police say an officer began a traffic stop in the area of Del Monte and Virgin avenues. Gogarty failed to yield and drove another five blocks before pulling over on English Avenue.
He was arrested for failing to yield to police and a subsequent search of his car turned up a disassembled Polymer 80 handgun with no serial number. “Ghost guns” can be tricky because they are sold as parts, legal in California. One critical component of any handgun, the receiver, can be sold as a so-called 80% receiver, meaning it is only 80% assembled and only considered a part it consequently doesn’t need a serial number.
But according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the buyer just needs to drill three holes — with directions easily found on Youtube videos — and it is a fully functioning weapon. However, any gun without a serial number is illegal in California. Ghost guns are often sold to people who cannot legally purchase a gun at a gun store, where background checks are required.
Ghost guns have been involved in numerous murders in the state, including the deaths of several police officers.
Contributed by local news sources