Bills Seek to Close Dangerous Loophole in Existing Background Check Law and Keep Guns Away from Domestic Abusers
More Than 100 Moms Demand Action Volunteers Turn Out For Press Conference and Rally at the Capitol
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – More than 100 volunteers with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today joined leaders from the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates to support a pair of soon-to-be introduced gun safety bills.
One of the bills would ensure that all rifle and shotgun sales include a criminal background check, as all handgun sales currently do. The other bill would require domestic abusers who have been convicted of certain crimes to surrender any firearms in their possession.
“The reason we are here today is very simple: Maryland still has work to do in order to protect people from gun violence in our state and live up to our reputation as a leader in the fight to reform our nation’s gun laws,” said Jennifer Stapleton, volunteer leader of the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action. “I’m honored to stand alongside some of our legislators and community leaders who understand that gaping loopholes still exist in our gun laws and who are committed to closing them.”
“These bills can save lives,” said Senator Will Smith, who will sponsor both bills in the Senate. “I am proud to sponsor this legislative package because I know there is always more we can do to keep our streets safe from violence. We owe it to our constituents to stand up for what’s right and put public safety over politics. I’m hopeful that my colleagues in the legislature as well as our governor will do what’s right and make sure these bills become law in Maryland.”
“It is an honor to put my name on this important bill to close the long gun loophole,” said Delegate Dereck Davis, who will sponsor the background check legislation in the House of Delegates, where he serves as Chairman of the Economic Matters Committee. “There is no reason why some firearms should be subject to background checks and others shouldn’t. The bill I’ll be introducing would ensure all gun sales in Maryland require a background check. Legislative leadership should make life-saving measures like these a priority. It’s who we are and what we believe in.”
“The most important job of this body is to ensure public safety in our state,” said Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, who will serve as the House co-sponsor of the domestic violence bill. “A big part of that means keeping women and children safe from domestic violence. That’s why passing this legislation is so vital. We absolutely should make it as difficult as possible for people convicted of dangerous domestic violence crimes to keep their guns. This is an issue I’ve cared about for many years and I’m honored to be fighting for common sense reforms alongside the volunteers with Moms Demand Action who continue to do such important work.”
Between 2010 and 2014, two out of every five intimate partner homicides in Maryland involved a gun. In that same period, over 20 percent of intimate partner gun homicides in Maryland were committed using a long gun.
- The Long Gun Loophole Bill: For two decades, Maryland has required criminal background checks for all sales and transfers of handguns. But dangerous people can buy rifles and shotguns from unlicensed sellers in Maryland – including strangers they meet at gun shows and online – with no background check whatsoever. The Senate Bill, to be introduced by Senator Smith, and its companion House bill, to be introduced by Delegate Davis, would close this loophole by requiring background checks on shotgun and rifle sales too.
- Ensuring Convicted Abusers Turn In Their Guns: Maryland and federal law prohibit firearm possession by criminals convicted of certain domestic violence crimes and abusers subject to final protective orders. However, there is no process in place for these convicted abusers to turn in their guns. This means that dangerous people who have just been convicted in a Maryland court of these domestic abuse crimes can leave the courthouse, retrieve guns they already own, and use them to do harm. Smith’s Senate Bill, introduced by Delegate Atterbeary in the House of Delegates, would close this dangerous gap by requiring certain domestic abusers to turn in their guns to law enforcement or to a federally licensed firearms dealer.