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Denver outlaws owning, manufacturing ‘ghost guns’ in the city

Soon it will be against the law to possess or manufacture “ghost guns” within Denver after the Denver City Council passed changes to the city’s weapons code on Monday.

Ghost guns are homemade firearms that don’t have serial numbers or markings, meaning they can’t be tracked to their maker, seller or original owner. They are usually constructed by buying pre-made parts and assembling them at home, or by 3-D printing non-serialized parts.

Currently, Denver’s weapons code allows for ghost guns because the law considers the parts used to assemble firearms to be components, not firearms themselves, said City Attorney Kristin Bronson. That means firearm parts can bypass regulations. 

“There is no single solution to preventing gun violence in our communities, but this ordinance is an important step toward keeping these unregistered and untraceable firearms off our streets and out of the hands of those banned from gun ownership,” Bronson said.

Bronson said the existing loophole allows minors and people with criminal records to obtain guns without background checks. Without a serial number, ghost guns also make it more difficult to solve crimes and get insight into gun trafficking patterns.

The bill makes it illegal for anyone to possess, wear, carry, transport, display, flourish, discharge, manufacture or sell any non-serialized firearm in Denver, including any non-serialized firearm frame or receiver.

The prohibition will go into effect after it is signed by Mayor Michael Hancock, which is expected to happen by Friday.

The bill passed in a 10-1 vote, with Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca voting “no” and two council members absent. CdeBaca voted against the bill after supporting a failed amendment that would have pushed back the implementation date for outlawing ghost gun ownership.

Councilman Kevin Flynn proposed the amendment, attempting to delay the prohibition of owning ghost guns to after Sept. 30, allowing owners of ghost guns to decide what to do, including destroying or disposing the weapons.

“This rule would give a legal pathway to serialize these firearms,” Flynn said. “The immediate effectiveness of this prohibition will mainly impact law-abiding owners by not giving them a runway period on which they can make deliberate decisions on how they want to proceed.”

The amendment failed in a 7-4 vote, with council members Paul Kashmann and Deborah Ortega joining Flynn and CdeBaca in support.

“We have an extraordinary gun violence problem in our city … we have to act,” Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer said in opposition of the amendment. “It is irresponsible for us, especially on a night where we give a moment of silence to five victims who lost their lives to gun violence last week in our city, for us to amend this at all.”

Across the country, at least 23,906 ghost guns were found by law enforcement at crime scenes between 2016 and 2020, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Under the bill, anyone convicted of possessing a ghost gun is subject to forfeiture of the weapon, a fine of up to $999 and up to 300 days in jail.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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