A federal judge sentenced a Baltimore man to 3½ years in prison last week for selling ghost guns without a license, according to court records.

Mark Ryals, 35, assembled 3D-printed handguns and sold them, along with a silencer, to undercover agents on multiple occasions in the summer of 2021, according to Ryals’ plea agreement. Ryals was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a protective order against him. Ryals also lacked a federal firearms license, meaning he could not legally sell guns.

In July 2021, an officer posing as a customer contacted Ryals wanting to buy firearms. Ryals, according to court records, sold him two Polymer80 handguns along with a silencer — a device that muffles the sound of a gun.

Officers made several other undercover purchases, which culminated in an Aug. 12 search of Ryals’ home, where authorities found machinery for assembling the guns, 237 rounds of ammunition, a shotgun with no serial number, several parts for making Polymer80 weapons and high-capacity magazines.

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Ryals, according to his plea agreement, waived his right to be silent and told authorities he had been making and selling the guns illegally. Authorities also recovered nearly $1,200 in cash, the bulk of which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had used to purchase guns from Ryals undercover.

Sentenced to 42 months in prison, Ryals will get credit for time served and will also be subject to three years of supervised probation after his release.

The firearms trafficking sentencing comes as Polymer80 handguns are plaguing Baltimore. The company sells firearm building kits that lack a serial number, and the parts can be assembled at home into a ready-to-shoot gun.

Commonly referred to as “ghost guns,” homemade firearms typically lack a serial number, meaning authorities can’t trace them to a point of sale or original purchaser. In 2022, the Maryland General Assembly made selling ghost guns a crime. That same year, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott sued Polymer80 and a Hanover-area gun store, claiming the two had flooded the city with ghost guns and created a nuisance.

That lawsuit is pending.

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According to a Baltimore Banner review of police data, ghost guns are making up an increasing share of firearms Baltimore Police recover on city streets.

Polymer80 lost similar lawsuits in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles and was ordered to pay sizable fines. Additionally, the company was banned from selling its products in California and the District of Columbia.

Lee O. Sanderlin is an Enterprise Reporter for The Baltimore Banner. Before joining The Banner, he worked at The Baltimore Sun as a reporter covering a wide array of topics, including stories about abusive politicians, sexual abuse, gun violence and legislative issues.

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