Montgomery State’s Attorney Tours Schools, Warns of Ghost Guns

State’s Attorney John McCarthy addressing students – courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office

On Saturday, September 24th, Bethesda Magazine published a piece chronicling Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy’s efforts to educate students on gun safety issues, focusing on ghost guns.

The State’s Attorney is visiting each of Montgomery County’s 26 high schools to “educate [the county’s] high school students about how to keep schools and students safe.” Gun seizures have risen in the last year, with “907 guns [having] been seized in the county as of Sept. 11,” according to State’s Attorney McCarthy. Of those guns seized, 148 were ghost guns – a high number as compared to previous years:

  • 16 ghost guns seized in all of 2019
  • 56 ghost guns seized in all of 2020
  • 71 ghost guns seized in all of 2021

During McCarthy’s presentation at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on September 14th, he highlighted the need to report guns present on school grounds, citing a lockdown that occurred at the same school when two students reported seeing a student with a gun. In addition, he included information regarding 1-833-MD-B-SAFE, “an anonymous reporting system in which students, teachers and members of the public can report safety concerns, including mental health concerns.” In a previous Bethesda Magazine piece, McCarthy is quoted as saying:

This is about, in a school setting, what can we do in partnership with you and your assistance to make your environment safe. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation banning unregistered ghost guns, which went into effect on June 1st. According to testimony submitted in support by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, “in an average year, 724 people die and 1,747 are wounded by firearms in our State.” Across Maryland, ghost guns are an increasing threat to public safety:

In Baltimore, more and more gun crimes are being committed with unserialized ghost guns. Last summer, a Baltimore City narcotics raid resulted in the seizure of fifteen ghost guns and an additional 40 Polymer80 kits. The recovery of ghost guns by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has also increased precipitously in recent years. As of November 1, 2021, BPD had recovered 272 ghost guns, an increase from 128 in 2020 and just 30 in 2019. Just yesterday, BPD Commissioner Harrison noted that Baltimore police have ‘seized 31 privately made firearms in 2022, far outpacing last year.’

Likewise, Montgomery and Prince George’s County Police have recovered substantially more ghost guns since they started tracking those figures several years ago. Just two weeks ago, a student at Magruder High School shot and critically wounded another student with a PMF. The numbers will continue to grow across Maryland, with jurisdictions like Anne Arundel County only now beginning to keep statistics on these weapons.

With lawsuits and statewide bans failing to stem the tide of ghost guns and a United States Supreme Court that is increasingly skeptical of gun regulation, education initiatives, similar to State’s Attorney McCarthy’s, might be one of the most effective means to prevent gun violence in schools.

Read the full Bethesda Magazine article.