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Politics

Maryland lawmakers pass bill to ban ‘ghost guns’

The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure to ban so-called ghost guns, which don’t have serial numbers.

The House gave the measure final passage 92-41 on Tuesday, sending it to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The Senate approved the bill 35-11 earlier this month. Both Houses have heavy Democratic majorities.

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Hogan’s spokesman Michael Ricci said the governor will consider this legislation when it reaches his desk, but “he continues to call on the General Assembly to take action to hold those who use guns to commit violent crimes accountable.”

Under the measure, guns made after Oct. 22, 1968, will have to have a serial number on them.

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Ghost guns are generally sold as kits that are 80% complete that purchasers finish putting together themselves. Buying gun kits online allows purchasers to avoid Maryland’s requirements for gun ownership, including background checks and, in the case of handguns, a training course and a special license.

Opponents say banning ghost guns could cause otherwise law-abiding gun owners and hobbyists to be charged with a crime and that Maryland should wait on pending federal rules to restrict sales of the weapons.

Efforts to ban ghost guns have languished in Annapolis the past few years, but lawmakers and activists made a renewed push this election year as the weapons are become more common.

In January one teenager shot another in a bathroom at Magruder High School in Montgomery County with a ghost gun, authorities say, triggering a lockdown and leading to a debate over whether police should again be stationed in that county’s schools.

Hogan has supported past gun legislation, including a “red flag” program that allows for guns to be temporarily taken away if a judge finds a person might harm themselves or others. But Hogan is in his last year in office with plans to visit key presidential race states and gun control is not popular among Republicans.

Attorney General Brian Frosh said the ban will save lives.

“These untraceable firearms have become the weapon of choice for criminals,” Frosh said in a statement. “They are easily purchased over the internet without a background check, making them easily accessible to children, violent felons, domestic abusers, and others who are ineligible to own a firearm.”


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