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by Kaitlyn Levinson
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS — Dozens of volunteers with the Maryland chapters of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense, two of the state’s leading gun control organizations, rallied under cold, overcast skies outside the General Assembly Jan. 25 to throw their support behind a proposed bill that would ban untraceable “ghost guns.”
Ghost guns, which law enforcement agencies say have exploded in popularity over the past few years, are firearms that can be made at home with kits or 3D printers and do not have serial numbers, law enforcement officials said.
They are difficult to detect because they lack serial numbers and they are made from plastic instead of metal, law enforcement agencies said.
The demonstration came just four days after a 17-year-old student at Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Derwood was charged in connection to shooting a 15-year-old classmate with a ghost gun, county police said.
Montgomery County Police officials said Steven Alston Jr. shot the other student with a plastic gun. When Alston was found inside a classroom at the school after the incident, the gun was found in three pieces with him, county police said.
The student who was shot in a school bathroom was listed in critical condition at press time, according to Montgomery County Police officials.
Alston was charged as an adult with attempted second-degree murder and other crimes and was being held without bond at press time.
Melissa Ladd, leader of the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, said Jan. 25 that the recent shooting points out the importance of banning the weapons.
“The urgency of this issue has never been closer to home,” Ladd told the audience.
State Sen. Susan Lee (D-Dist. 16) of Montgomery County, who is sponsoring legislation that would ban “ghost guns,” told the crowd of gun control activists on Jan. 25 that it is imperative the assembly adopt her proposed legislation.
“All of the bills that we pass to do background checks — to do gun safety — will be useless until we pass this bill,” Lee said.
Lee’s legislation would require owners register the guns with a serial number and it expands the definition of a firearm.
Her bill, SB0387, would consider an unfinished frame, also called a receiver, as a firearm because it is an integral part of making a ghost gun, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a virtual press conference on Jan. 20.
If passed, the bill would require anyone with an untraceable firearm to sell their weapon or attain a serial number from a licensed dealer by Jan 1, 2023.
Law enforcement officials across the state have noted a spike in the number of ghost guns reported in their communities in recent years, officials said during a live steamed press conference on Jan. 20.
Police seized 264 ghost guns last year, Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said.
The Baltimore Police Department seized more than 300 ghost guns in 2021, a quarter of which came from individuals not old enough to have a firearm, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
Other states have moved to address the issue of ghost guns, with at least 10 enacting laws to combat the availability of the weapons, according to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Capital News Service is a student-powered news organization run by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, with bureaus in College Park, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., run by professional journalists. James R. Carroll is senior lecturer and Washington Bureau chief.
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