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Senate ghost gun bill passes

Jon Whitton via flickr

A bill that would ban unserialized, untraceable firearms or “ghost guns” in Maryland passed the Senate Wednesday evening 35-11 with bipartisan support.

Republican Sen. Michael Hough, of Frederick County, said he supported the measure because amendments were added to protect hobbyist gun owners.

“There was a problem, we agreed to address it,” he explained. “Rather than just drive off the cliff with our flags flying, we try to come up with a common-sense solution to deal with ghost guns, but also to deal with people that currently have them.”

The amendments allow hobbyists to obtain serial numbers for the guns they have built from the state police rather than a federally licensed firearms dealer. Additionally, people must knowingly violate the law to be charged under it. Further, the maximum jail sentence for first-time offenders was reduced from three years to two years.

“Basically, if somebody is a law-abiding citizen, they're doing the right things, they built one of these, we don't want to see him get caught up, we don't want to see him get in trouble. We don't want to see him lose their gun, we want to set up a system that works,” Hough said.

Sen. Jack Bailey, another Republican from Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, said the legislation is a perfect example of the progress that can be made when lawmakers are willing to collaborate, “We can make a really good product when we all work together.”

Bailey said he recently visited a shooting event where he educated some skeptics on the legislation.

“I had a lot of people turn and walk away from me because I voted for this in committee. But once I explained it to them and educated them about what was going on, they changed their views,” Bailey said.

The bill now moves to the House which has passed its own version.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.