Firearms Control in Maryland
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “Every day, more than 110 Americans are killed with guns and more than 200 are shot and wounded”. Daily news of shootings dominates the headlines and our communities have become numb to the violence. For numerous students, businesses, and workplaces active shooter drills have become something that Americans have grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, this has become the stark reality of living in the United States.
In 2018 in order to address the continuing violence the League of Women Voters US sent a letter to the United States Congress urging them to “adopt legislation that will close the gun show loophole, increase penalties for straw purchases of guns, ban assault weapons, place limits on high capacity ammunition magazine size, and fund research and reporting on gun violence in America”. The League holds a strong position in support of firearms control. The LWVUS position is: Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons. In 1991, LWVMD reached concurrence and adopted a state position. Still in 2022 the League is continuing to work to end the gun violence epidemic.
This year the League will be tracking several firearms control bills that have been introduced. The bills are as follows:
SB338- Handgun Permit-Preliminary Approval. The League will be opposing this bill which would allow for a person to apply for preliminary approval for a handgun permit without first completing a firearms training course. Within 120 days after receipt of preliminary approval an applicant must submit proof of completion of a firearms training course. If no proof of completion of a firearms training course is received the bill states “the secretary shall revoke the preliminary approval and deny the application”. The League supports licensing procedures for gun ownership by private citizens to include a waiting period for background checks, personal identity verification, gun safety education, and annual license renewal. We also support a requirement of a proficiency test as part of the procedure for obtaining a hunting license. The purpose of the test is to assure gun owners can safely operate their firearm.
HB425/SB387-Public Safety-Untraceable Firearms. The League will be supporting this bill which would expand the definition of what constitutes a “firearm”. It would expand the definition to the following as a “firearm” to include a “certain unfinished frame or receiver; prohibiting a person from purchasing, receiving, selling, offering to sell, or transferring an unfinished frame or receiver, or possessing a firearm on or after a certain date”. A “ghost gun” according to Everytown for Gun Safety is “a do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get building blocks that can be purchased with no background check and no questions asked. These guns are made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer”. Ghost guns are especially dangerous because they are virtually untraceable and anyone can gain access to them without going through any kind of formal process. This bill would also help to better define what a gun is and hopefully reduce the number of ghost guns in Maryland.
HB659/SB676- Firearm Safety - Storage Requirements and Youth Suicide Prevention (Jaelynn's Law). The League will be supporting this bill which would alter certain provisions in relating to the storage of firearms and ammunition. It will also require the Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services to develop a youth suicide prevention and firearm safe storage guide, with recommendations from a stakeholder committee. LWVUS-supports gun policy measures to close major loopholes in the law: mandating background checks for all gun show purchases and child safety locks on guns. Making sure a person’s firearm is stored properly and locked away from children can help ensure the safety of everyone in the vicinity.
The gun violence epidemic is not something that can be solved overnight, but something that will take time. The League of Women Voters Maryland is supporting HB425/SB387 and HB659/SB676 and opposes SB338.
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