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Serial Number Requirement For 'Ghost Guns' Starts Wednesday, Deadline To Comply In 2023, Police Say

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Starting Wednesday, serial numbers are required on all "ghost guns" and unfinished firearms that are sold or transferred in the state, the Maryland State Police said.

Owners have until March 1, 2023, to have a serial number imprinted on their privately made firearm by any authorized Federal Firearms License provider.

The law enforcement agency defined an "unfinished frame or receiver" as "a forged, cast, printed, extruded, or machined body or similar article that has reached a stage in manufacture where it may readily be completed, assembled, or converted to be used as the frame or receiver of a functional firearm."

In March, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law prohibiting the sale or transfer of "ghost guns" by the start of March 2023, legislation strongly backed by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

"As they specifically advertise, in an hour, or even less, you can have a functional handgun," Frosh said of online "ghost gun" kits during a virtual press conference in January. "We can no longer tolerate the fiction that these components should not be defined as regulated firearms."

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison have also been strong proponents of a ban.

"I see this bill as a part of a multi-faceted approach to get illegal guns off of our streets," Scott said in March. "The number of ghost guns we are seeing in our streets, and in the hands of those who are committing violence, is growing continuously."

The mayor on Tuesday announced the city plans to sue "ghost gun" manufacturer Polymer80, Inc.

According to figures released by the Baltimore Police Department on Tuesday, the number of "ghost guns" seized by officers nearly tripled between 2020 and 2021, going from 128 to 352. Thus far in 2022, the number of seizures has already surpassed the 2021 total and stands at 187.

The law sets aside at least $150,000 annually for the Secretary of State Police to maintain a registry of firearms imprinted with serial numbers.

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