Published On: Tue, May 4th, 2021

Montgomery County Legislators Propose Stricter Regulation on ‘Ghost Guns’

In January, Montgomery County Legislators proposed new regulation and guidelines for weapons referred to as “ghost guns.” The restrictions reached both the county and state levels.

The Maryland lawmakers used the term “ghost gun” for any variation of firearm constructed by a 3D printer. In other words, a gun manufactured directly by a citizen to circumvent any state requirements or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) review periods and background checks. The term also applies to guns built with parts and pieces sold legally in kits. 

These “ghost guns” cannot be traced by any extent of authority or catch-all database. Due to the nature of their fabrication, there is no serial number attached to the gun. The Montgomery County Legislation looks to provide potential solutions to stopping the trade of phantom weapons. 

Details of the Legislation 

County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz originally proposed the new law at the beginning of 2021. The legislation prohibits the transmission of a ghost gun to a minor. This provision works in tandem with another statute passed by the state a month after Albornoz’s motion. 

The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that edited the language of an already-instituted law that forbids any gun owner from storing their firearm anywhere a child could “gain access to it.” Along those same lines, Albornoz’s Legislation says you cannot assemble a ghost gun with a child present or in view. 

Albornoz’s bill also states that selling, delivering, possessing or building a ghost gun while in the 100-yard radius of a few specific locations is a punishable offense. These places include, but are not limited to, schools, universities, churches and community centers. Generally, any site popular for public gatherings is outlawed. 

Delegate Lesley J. Lopez’s Bill

Another bill proposed by Maryland Delegate Lesley J. Lopez adds more restrictions to the ghost gun trade. The delegate reassured her work is not an outright embargo on ghost guns but instead a list of safety precautions. Lopez represents the state’s District 39, or Montgomery County, and entered office on January 9, 2019. 

Under Lopez’s bill, ghost guns would still be legal. “It’s really important that people who are law-abiding citizens still have the ability to make their own firearms for their own purposes,” explained the delegate. The bill more so focuses on the producing and selling of receivers.

According to Lopez, “a receiver, or frame, is a piece of metal or polymer that basically brings the whole firearm together.” She goes on to designate receivers as the essential component to making the gun functional. The bill requires anyone selling an unfinished receiver must serialize the weapon. Additionally, you must own a handgun carrying permit to make the purchase. 

The Reason for the Bills

Albornoz’s legislation on ghost guns and Lopez’s bill on receivers will likely work together as two gun safety measures in unison. They come at an opportune time, as unlicensed firearm numbers have steadily climbed in Montgomery County. In 2020, police seized 73 ghost guns from unqualified carriers. 

Additionally, police arrested 55 individuals for possession of a ghost gun. Of those 55 people, three were 18 years of age or younger. These numbers come directly from the county’s Police Chief, Marcus Jones. 

The weapons are most commonly found among alleged gang members. It may be due to the untraceable nature the guns offer. Homicides and crime have spiked in Montgomery in 2021, so the Bills will look to weather the growing transgressions. 

A Correlation Between Ghost Gun Usage and Race

Ghost gun usage is most frequently linked to people of color and minorities. When speaking on the subject, Lopez said, “we’re seeing the victims of these kinds of guns from communities of color.”

As of 2021, just over 15 percent of Montgomery identifies as African-American, and around 11 percent each identify as either Asian or Latino. In November 2020, 18 percent of non-white U.S. citizens owned a gun, and 28 percent lived in a household with at least one gun. 

Seeking Legal Help

Given the proposed legislation on ghost guns, we may see more arrests related to these firearms. If you or someone you know is facing criminal allegations related to ghost guns, you should reach out to a Maryland criminal lawyer for legal help. 

Author: Sadaf Zain

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