Ghost guns are already illegal in Maryland. Sharing the tech and instructions behind them isn’t — for now

Ghost guns — untraceable firearms usually put together by someone using unassembled or homemade components — are already illegal in Maryland.

Nonetheless, they’ve been used in some high profile crimes in Prince George’s County in recent years, including several that involve juveniles.

Now, the Prince George’s County Council wants to give prosecutors a new tool that will go after those who help juveniles get their hands on one.

A new bill written by Council member Krystal Oriadha would make it illegal to give a juvenile such a weapon, including the technology or components that can be used to make one.

“We have this technology and our laws have to catch up with it,” Oriadha said. “We’re seeing, one, them getting their hands on the gun already manufactured. But then also, we’re seeing people sharing the data and the technology. And so we just want to make sure that our laws stay on top of what’s happening in the community.”

It’s an idea she hopes state lawmakers in Annapolis will replicate statewide next year.

“They addressed ghost guns,” Oriadha said. “But what we did not see and where we wanted to step in, is really focusing on sharing the data, making that clear that if you share any of the technology for any parts, or any facets of a weapon, that it would be against the law.”

Oriadha said because it’s not against state law yet, the county law can only be a misdemeanor. If it passes, it would be punishable by up to six months in jail and the highest fine allowed, which is currently $1,000.

“We know that this one piece of legislation won’t stop gun violence, right? I don’t think it will,” she said. “But what we have to say is that we will make sure that we provide all the tools and resources for our police and our prosecutors to hold people accountable when they are getting weapons in the hands of young people.”

Oriadha said it’s all about the data and making sure the county is equipped to deal with trends as they emerge.

“Because what we don’t want to see is … a lot of adults or young adults sharing that data and then, when it comes to how our state’s attorney and our police can hold them accountable, they don’t have the tools and resources,” she said.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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