News Releases

February 8, 2022: District Attorney George Gascón Asks Credit Card Companies to Halt Online Payments for Ghost Guns

Greg Risling, Assistant Chief
(213) 257-2000

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that he is calling upon three credit card companies to once again show responsible corporate citizenship by stopping online payments for the purchase of ghost gun kits.

“American Express, Mastercard and Visa have the ability to go beyond what any law enforcement agency, legislature or city council can accomplish,” District Attorney Gascón said. “We are asking these companies to join us in stemming the flow of ghost guns into our communities by preventing a ghost gun kit from being sold with a few mere clicks on a smartphone or computer.”

District Attorney Gascón was joined by Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore and San Gabriel Police Chief Gene Harris, who is president of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, in urging the credit card companies to halt the online transactions involving ghost guns.

Ghost guns are firearms kits sold mostly on the internet for approximately $350 to $500. The set of tools that arrives by mail can be assembled into a working firearm. They are called ghost guns because they are unregistered and lack a serial number, making them untraceable by law enforcement. 

The weapons are purchased with no valid background checks, often merely requiring the buyer to self-certify. This means that someone who is legally disqualified by virtue of a felony, domestic violence conviction, mental illness or being underage can easily purchase a ghost gun kit by making a false and untested certification.

It is well documented and beyond dispute that the proliferation of ghost guns has had a debilitating effect on our country, our state and our county. By prohibiting online payments for ghost guns, the credit card agencies can take meaningful steps to improve public safety.

In 2015, the credit card companies banded together to cease allowing their networks to be used for processing payments on, which was accused of facilitating sex trafficking.

Since 2017, the number of ghost guns seized by the Los Angeles Police Department has increased by approximately 400 percent and the trend is accelerating. During 2020, LAPD recovered 813 ghost guns.

During the first 11 months of 2021, the amount recovered more than doubled to 1,780. Last August, LAPD reported that ghost guns accounted for 33 percent of all guns it recovered in suspected criminal activity.

The proliferation of ghost guns has corresponded with a sharp rise in violent crime. LAPD reported that as of August 2021, homicides had increased by 25 percent from the previous year and that shootings with victims hit by gunfire have increased by 35 percent. During the first 10 months of 2021, LAPD reported that ghost guns had been used in 24 murders, eight attempted murders, 60 assaults with deadly weapons and 20 armed robberies.

 Read Amex Letter 

 Read Visa Mastercard Letter