By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
Report for America Corps Member
As murders continue to rise in Baltimore, so persists the polarized view on guns. The impact of gun violence has taken a toll on the city, prompting elected officials to take action.
Recently, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott began to take the fight directly to the manufacturer of “ghost guns,” a type of build-it-yourself, untraceable firearm.
Scott is suing the gun manufacturer Polymer80, alleging that the company is currently the main contributor to the ghost gun problem in Baltimore City.
“There is no one solution. This is just one play in the playbook to help deal with this disease,” said Mayor Scott to the AFRO. “In 2020, ghost guns were the fifth most recovered. In 2021, we recovered 328, representing 14 percent of guns recovered. They jumped to second place in 2022- we’re already at 237 this year.”
Ghost guns make up 19 percent of all guns seized in Baltimore City.Scott said that Polymer80 contributes to 91 percent of all “seized ghost guns in Baltimore.”
According to information released by the Office of the Mayor, the BPD began coming across ghost guns in 2018.
Philip Bangle, senior litigation counsel for Brady, a non-profit aimed at gun violence prevention, said “this lawsuit is Baltimore’s attempt to end the flow of ghost guns into the community.
According to information released by Brady, ghost guns are a growing epidemic across the United States.
Ghost guns are purchased as unserialized and disassembled gun kits. Manuals and how-to videos are supplied and suggested by the manufacturer on the Polymer80 website and social media.
“The City noticed a sharp increase in police records of ghost guns,” said James Hannaway, a lawyer from Sanford Heisler Sharp, the company representing Baltimore City in the lawsuit. “Some action needed to be taken.”
The City expects compensation for damage to the City of Baltimore, which includes policing costs, exemplary damages, and a remedy requiring Polymer80 to hinder ghost guns from entering Baltimore City.
“We know that folks on the wrong side of the criminal justice system are using people who don’t have records to get these
],” said Mayor Scott to the AFRO.
Mayor Scott and his legal team claim Polymer80’s primary consumers include those who desire to evade the police or cannot obtain a gun legally; this includes underage buyers, buyers with criminal convictions, and gun traffickers.
In most cases, the BPD recovers ghost guns once they have been used in a crime. As a result, the actual number of ghost guns on the street is unknown and can exceed the numbers already reported to the community.
According to Mayor Scott, the June 1 statewide ban on the unregistered, unserialized ghost guns was “just a step.” Marylanders have until March 1, 2023 to register their ghost guns, according to information released by the Maryland State Police.
When asked how long the community can expect to wait before they see results, Scott said “legal things take a long time, and we’re not expecting Polymer80 to just show up in court.”
The lawsuit also includes Hanover Armory as a defendant. According to the case, Hanover Armory regularly sells Polymer80 kits in Maryland without determining whether its customers are prohibited from owning a firearm.
Hannaway told the AFRO that city officials “are prepared to move as quickly as possible,” but “there was no filed response from both Hanover or Polymer80. They are in the process.”
“We are working as a team with Brady to refine the legalities,” Hannaway continued.
According to Jack French, the Mayor’s acting press secretary, the public can access all documents relating to this lawsuit per the Maryland Judicial Case Search website.
Polymer80 personnel did not respond to phone calls or requests for comment via email.
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