‘Ghost guns’ would be banned under proposed Denver law

By: - December 17, 2021 4:00 am

A customer at ABQ Guns in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg, Getty Images)

Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson and Mayor Michael Hancock proposed an ordinance last week to ban ghost guns, which are privately-made firearms without serial numbers on them, making the guns untraceable. 

If passed, the bill would ban the possession, carry, use, manufacture and sale of non-serialized guns in Denver, according to the executive summary of the bill.

“We want to get ahead of the curve. Cities across America are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of crimes involving ghost guns, and Denver is not immune,” Bronson said in a statement last week. “A person who would otherwise be banned from purchasing a gun legally — an underage teen, a felon or someone under a red flag order — can currently evade gun laws by purchasing non-serialized parts or ghost gun kits.” 

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. In Colorado, you can contact Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

The proposed legislation comes at a time when gun violence and deaths are reaching never-before-seen levels. There have been over 42,000 gun violence incidents this year, as of Dec. 15, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection and research group. There were more than 39,000 incidents of gun violence in 2019 and over 43,000 in 2020.

In March, a 21-year-old gunman shot and killed 10 people at a King Soopers in Boulder. In response, Democratic lawmakers in Colorado introduced legislation aimed at strengthening background checks and creating a state office to focus on gun violence prevention and research.

This year, state Sens. Stephen Fenberg and Dominick Moreno and state Reps. Edie Hooton and Lindsey Daugherty sponsored the Local Regulation Of Firearms bill, which passed in June. This allows local governments in Colorado to enact stricter gun control legislation than the state’s. 

Colorado has been the site of several mass shootings in recent years, including a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, where 12 people were killed, and a 2015 shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, where three people were killed. In 1999, two students killed 13 people and injured 24 at Columbine High School. 

Last month, nine high school students in Aurora were shot. 

Community members gather at a memorial near a King Soopers in south Boulder on March 25, 2021. The memorial honors 10 people who were killed during a mass shooting at the site three days earlier. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

In September, Rep. Jason Crow, of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, led Colorado lawmakers in a letter pressing the Department of Justice to ensure states comply with background checks that are required for people attempting to purchase firearms out of state. The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Joe Neguse, of the 2nd Congressional District, Diana DeGette, of the 1st District, and Ed Perlmutter, of the 7th District. 

Last week, Rep. Lauren Boebert, of the 3rd Congressional District, faced criticism after she tweeted a photo of her children holding firearms. She later tweeted that the firearms were Christmas presents. 

“While the Biden Administration moves forward with new ATF regulations at the federal level, it is imperative that we close this loophole at the local level,” Bronson said. 

Over 23,000 ghost guns recovered

President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice are working to reduce the number of ghost guns throughout the country. The department proposed a rule this year to require retailers to run background checks prior to selling kits that contain parts necessary for someone to “readily make a gun at home,” according to a May statement. The proposed rule would also require manufacturers to include a serial number on the firearm frame or receiver in “easy-to-build- firearm kits,” as well as require federally licensed firearms dealers to add a serial number to 3D printed guns, or other firearms they stock that don’t have serial numbers.

Some firearm kits cost around $350, according to research conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit aimed at reducing gun violence. 

The rule would require gun licensees to mark privately-made firearms that don’t have serial numbers on them, therefore making the guns traceable. Licensees would also be required to retain all forms and documents. 

Over 23,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes between 2016 and 2020, according to the Department of Justice statement. 

The proposed Denver law would also reorganize the city’s weapons ordinance to provide a “clearer structure for definitions, unlawful acts, and affirmative defenses,” according to the city attorney statement.

Denver has recovered almost 40 ghost guns at crime scenes throughout the city since November 2019, according to the statement.

The proposed ordinance is expected to appear the full city council on Dec. 20.


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