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Mayor Bowser Announces Emergency Ghost Gun Legislation

Friday, February 28, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser was joined by administration public safety officials and gun safety advocates to announce emergency legislation to prohibit the possession, assembly, sale, and purchase of any type of ghost gun in the District. Under the emergency legislation, ghost guns include undetectable guns manufactured by 3-D printers and made of non-metal materials that cannot be identified using a magnetometer, as well as untraceable guns ordered as “80% kits,” assembled without the need for sophisticated machinery and without a serial number that allows it to be traced to its manufacturing source.

“Ghost guns are intentionally designed to be undetectable and untraceable, and we have seen a spike in the number of these illegal firearms recovered in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are sending a simple message with this legislation – if you play a role in trying to profit from bloodshed in our community, we will hold you accountable.”

The District has seen a significant increase of ghost guns recovered in DC in the past two years, all of which are the untraceable “80% kit” types. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has recovered 38 ghost guns so far in 2020.

  • 2017: 3 ghost guns recovered by MPD;
  • 2018: 25 ghost guns recovered;
  • 2019: 116 ghost guns recovered;
  • Of the 116 collected in 2019, at least three involved murders;
  • YTD 2020: 38 ghost guns recovered.

“At MPD, each year we are recovering more of these ghost guns, which pose a significant public safety risk to our communities,” said DC Police Chief Peter Newsham. “This emergency legislation is an important step towards reducing violent gun crimes in the District and getting these guns off our streets and out of the hands of violent offenders.”

The permanent version of the legislation will also create a private right of action allowing any victim of a ghost gun to sue the manufacturer of the ghost gun and hold them liable for their actions. Mayor Bowser is currently working with legal experts to ensure this provision is not impacted by federal legislation that protects commercial gun manufacturers from liability suits.