ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired in October 2019.
A Maryland measure to ban guns without serial numbers will go into effect without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.
The Republican governor made the announcement Friday on the first of more than three dozen bills he is expected to make decisions about that the General Assembly presented to him early. He has the options of signing the bills, vetoing them or letting them go into law without his signature.
"It is a positive step as we seek to stem the tide of violent crime—but it does nothing to penalize those who actually pull the trigger on firearms," the governor tweeted.
Hogan wrote that he'd like to see lawmakers support his Violent Firearms Offender Act "to increase penalties for those who illegally use guns to commit violent crimes."
"Violent crime remains the most urgent issue facing Baltimore City—and the most pressing concern for Marylanders—but as the legislative session reaches its final hours, no action has been taken on our emergency legislation to hold violent criminals accountable," Hogan tweeted.
The governor wrote that he was appreciative that the Senate passed the Judicial Transparency Act, which requires "detailed information to be published regarding the sentences that are being given—or not given—for violent crimes."
He also noted, "The House and the Senate have funded our Re-Fund The Police Initiative to help recruit and retain more quality officers, increase diversity and expand community policing efforts, improve training, and provide body cams and other equipment upgrades."
Hogan tweeted he hopes that during the final days of this legislative session the General Assembly will vote on the Violent Firearms Offender Act, "so that we can ensure those who use guns to commit violent and heinous crimes remain off of our streets and out of our communities."
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who requested the legislation on Jan. 25 — four days after a student at Magruder High School in Derwood shot a classmate with a ghost gun — released a statement after the governor's announcement, praising lawmakers for their work on getting the bill passed.
"Ghost guns have become a rapidly growing threat to public safety. Easy to assemble kits are available over the Internet. Violent felons, children, and abusers are obtaining these lethal guns in ever larger numbers," Frosh said in the statement.
He called the bill a step that makes communities safer.
Frosh said, "Not only are these weapons dangerous, these unserialized, untraceable firearms hinder law enforcement’s efforts to solve gun crimes. Our law banning ghost guns in Maryland will save lives."
The measure banning untraceable firearms requires guns made after Oct. 22, 1968, to have serial numbers.
Frosh said on Jan. 25 that from 2016 to 2019, there were 12,000 untraceable firearms shipped in Maryland. The attorney general said since 2016 — the year the state started tracking ghost gun data — police have confiscated 25,000 privately made firearms in Maryland.
In Montgomery County, data shows that the police seized 71 untraceable guns in 2021, which was a 343.75% increase compared to the amount recovered in 2019.
Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz told reporters Jan. 25, that in 2021, police seized 264 ghost guns in Prince George's County, which is an 877.78% increase compared to the 27 ghost guns seized in 2019.
State Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Lesley Lopez — both Democrats representing Montgomery County residents — spearheaded the effort to pass the bills.
Lopez tweeted her excitement Friday about the bill becoming law.
She wrote, "Wow, team! Our ghost gun ban will go into effect and it is because of the broad, bipartisan coalition of support for this life-saving, common sense bill! Thank you to everyone who worked to see this day come!!"
The law goes into effect in Maryland on June 1, 2022.