March 1, 2019

Vice Chairman Smith Leads Push to Prohibit Untraceable ‘Ghost Guns’

In a Wednesday afternoon hearing of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Committee Vice Chairman Senator Will Smith (District 20 – Montgomery County) introduced legislation that would prohibit untraceable computer-fabricated firearms and related firearms production materials in Maryland. The intent of Senate Bill 882 is to prohibit such weapons and assist Maryland in coordinating with already existent federal law that prohibits the creation of untraceable firearms. Joined by numerous public safety advocates, Smith detailed his proposal noting the importance of this legislation and the ever-evolving nature of the technology involved in creating these firearms.

Three dimensional printed firearms are typically classified by the term ‘ghost gun.’ That term is used in conjunction with the federally-referenced definition relating to firearms without serial numbers and thus untraceable to law enforcement authorities. Kits to build these guns (sometimes called 80% lowers) contain partially completed firearms production materials. The materials in these kits require tooling to function and have not yet reached a stage of manufacture to be considered a full-fledged firearm. Currently kits like these are readily available online and allow individuals to produce weapons similar to the AR-15, the AK-47, the .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, and more.

In a December interview with the Capital News Service, Smith stated: ““In the last five years, we’ve gone from being able to essentially print figurines, to operable firearms,” Smith said. “We’re trying to keep ahead of the curve but this is still something that has proliferated so fast we’re still behind. … The last thing we want is for the next gun tragedy to be the result of a 3D-printed gun.”

Smith is joined in sponsorship of the legislation by twenty-six Senate colleagues including Senators Augustine (District 47 – Prince George’s County), Beidle (District 32 – Anne Arundel County), Benson (District 24 – Prince George’s County), Carter (District 41 – Baltimore City), Elfreth (District 30 – Anne Arundel County), Ellis (District 28 – Charles County), Feldman (District 15 – Montgomery County), Ferguson (District 46 – Baltimore City), Griffith (District 25 – Prince George’s County), Guzzone (District 13 – Howard County), Hester (District 9 – Howard and Carroll Counties), Kagan (District 17 – Montgomery County), Kelley (District 10 – Baltimore County), King (District 39 – Montgomery County), Kramer (District 19 – Montgomery County), Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties), Lee (District 16 – Montgomery County), Miller (District 27- Prince George’s, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties), Nathan-Pulliam (District 44 – Baltimore City and Baltimore County), Patterson (District 26 – Prince George’s County), Pinsky (District 22 – Prince George’s County), Washington (District 43 – Baltimore City), Young (District 3 – Frederick County), Zirkin (District 11 – Baltimore County), and Zucker (District 14 – Montgomery County).

Senate Bill 882 is cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 740 and sponsored by House Majority Leader Delegate Kathleen Dumais (District 15 – Montgomery County). House Bill 740 was heard before the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 25th. Both Senate Bill 882 and House Bill 740 now await committee votes before proceeding to their respective full chambers for consideration. As of today, 41 days remain in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly Session. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.