ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The debate over gun control laws has intensified across the country following the shootings in Buffalo, NY, and the most recent tragedy at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Maryland is just days away from taking action against a growing problem that has school and state officials worried: ghost guns.
“The Attorney General says 12,000 ghost guns, 12,000 were shipped into Maryland just last year," said Montgomery County's State Attorney John McCarthy in a March interview with WUSA9.
On June 1, Maryland is banning the purchase, transfer, or sale of any firearm or unfinished frame or receiver that is not imprinted with a serial number in accordance with federal law. The District of Columbia and 10 other states including Virginia have similar legislation in place.
Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade guns that can be made using components that can be purchased without a background check. Often the pieces are bought online or come in kits, can be made with 3D printers.
The pieces are often bought online or come in kits, but some of these pieces can be created by 3D printers.
The Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action has been pushing for this ghost gun ban for four years. The chapter leader Melissa Ladd says that as a mom and educator, she feels they are addressing a concern that is on the rise in the state.
"We know in Maryland this really is the growing problem. Ghost guns have been something that has shown up in schools. For example, Montgomery County where I live has had more than five ghost guns show up this year," said Ladd.
According to Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), a school shooting on January 21 left a student critically injured at Magruder High in Derwood by a 17-year-old Steven Alston Jr., who assembled a ghost gun and shot the student. Alston Jr. will be tried as an adult on attempted first-degree murder charges and will face 15-25 years in prison.
Data from MCPD shows that in 2019 they recovered 16 ghost guns, the number jumped to 56 in 2020, and in 2021 it reached 71. It is expected that 2022 will surpass the number of recovered weapons.
But these issues is not isolated to one county, just this week a Prince George's County high school student was charged with possession of a handgun by a minor, after bringing parts of a ghost gun purchased online to Fairmont High School in Landover.
As a part of the ghost gun ban in Maryland, no one in the state may posses one of these weapons by March 1, 2023.