Owning a firearm can sometimes come with a significant amount of red tape. Depending on the type of gun you want and where you want to be able to take it, you may need a permit and background check.
It was only a matter of time before 3D printing became another way for people to make their own guns that do not have the traceable serial numbers of other firearms. Now, the Maryland legislature is contemplating two bills that would attempt to eliminate ghost guns.
Here’s what you should know about the bills the Maryland house and senate are considering.
What you know (or should have known)
The two bills that the house and senate are talking about hinge on what you know about the weapons in your possession. One bill (Senate Bill 387) proposes criminal penalties if you know or should have known that the gun did not have a serial number.
The bill gives owners the benefit of the doubt, which can be significant, especially for a first-time gun owner who may not know the expectations or where to look for a serial number on their weapon.
Presumption of knowledge
The more strict bill (House Bill 425) does not have the grace of the senate version. The House Bill assumes that if you have a weapon without a serial number, you know about it. The bill, then, would allow for criminal charges for those found in possession of a firearm that does not have a serial number.
Notice and penalties
Both the senate version and the House version would allow those who have ghost guns (firearms without serial numbers) to come forward to either sell their unserialized weapons or to have them serialized by a licensed firearms dealer.
Depending on which bill passes, the consequences of being caught with a ghost gun could be severe. The stricter House bill would include a $10,000 fine, time in prison and make the person convicted ineligible to own a firearm. On the other hand, the Senate bill has potential jail time, a $10,000 fine, but without the restriction on future gun ownership.
The new legislation is expected to go into effect on June 1, so it will be important for gun owners to be aware of which bill passes. Getting caught with a ghost gun could lead to serious consequences that could limit your ability to continue to own firearms.