“Ghost guns” are one step closer to being illegal in the Mile High City.
Ten members of the Denver City Council voted to ban the manufacture, possession, and sale of any “non-serialized firearm” on Monday. Penalties for violating the new law would include confiscation of the weapon, up to a $999 fine, and up to 300 days in jail.
The bill aims to make Denver one of the nine U.S. cities that currently regulate or prohibit non-serialized firearm frames and receivers, commonly referred to by gun-control advocates as “ghost guns”. The bill also marks the first step Colorado’s largest city has taken to enact gun control under its new local authority following the repeal of state preemption in 2021.
The bill, 21-1493, was introduced in December by Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson. She said she proposed the new law in order to combat the rise in the use of ‘ghost guns’ in crime reported in other cities.
“We want to get ahead of the curve,” Bronson said in a statement at the time. “Cities across America are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of crimes involving ghost guns, and Denver is not immune.”
She said non-serialized firearms create opportunities for persons prohibited from owning firearms to get their hands on a weapon. She also called their current legal status a loophole that needed to be closed.
“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,” she said. “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.”
While the city attorney’s statements seemed to indicate that Denver was experiencing a major issue with crime committed with ‘ghost guns’, her office’s presentation before the city council in support of the ban indicated the weapons have had a limited presence in the city.
According to the presentation, Denver Police have recovered 38 ‘ghost guns’ since November 2019, accounting for 2 percent of all crime guns recovered.
Taylor Rhodes, Executive Director of the Colorado gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), slammed the city’s decision.
“It is troubling that the city of Denver has restricted an avenue for an individual to exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” Rhodes told The Reload. “Rights should never be limited to, or by, ‘government approved’ manufacturers nor rogue local governments. RMGO will stand firm in objecting to despotic policies like this with our members in Denver and around the state.”
The bill now awaits the signature or veto of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D.). His office did not respond to a request for a comment, but it is expected that he will sign the bill.