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Gun Safety Prevails: Maryland Moms Demand Action, Survivors of Gun Violence Applaud Veto Override of Background Check Legislation

February 11, 2021

Law Will Prevent Those Barred From Having Guns From Bypassing a Background Check When Purchasing Shotguns or Rifles From Private Sellers

Vote Comes More Than Two Years After the Mass Shooting at the Capital Gazette Newsroom Where Five People Were Shot and Killed, and Another Two Were Wounded With a Shotgun

Volunteers and Survivors of Gun Violence Have Prioritized This Legislation for Years and are Available for Interviews

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, today applauded lawmakers in the House of Delegates for voting to override Governor Hogan’s veto of HB4/SB208, legislation to require a background check on all rifle and shotgun sales. The vote is the final step for the legislation, after the Senate voted to override the veto this past Tuesday. Maryland law will now require a background check on every gun sale.

“Nothing made John prouder than helping others. I take solace in knowing he inspired Maryland to enact a law to prevent the trauma we experienced from happening to others,” said Andrea Chamblee, a volunteer with Maryland Moms Demand Action whose husband, John McNamara, was shot and killed in the 2018 Capital Gazette shooting. “The loophole that allowed rifles and shotguns to fall into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them put us all in danger. I vowed to honor John’s life with action, and committed to doing everything in my power to prevent another family from going through what we have. The fight for common-sense gun safety doesn’t end here, but for the moment, we can rest easier knowing there’s one less loophole in the laws that protect us from gun violence.”

“Because of the General Assembly’s action, Marylanders across the state, from our rural areas to our suburbs and cities, will be safer and we will reduce gun violence,” said Danielle Veith, a volunteer with Maryland Moms Demand Action. “We are grateful to our legislative champions and volunteers who worked tirelessly for years to close the loophole in our background check system and who never gave up. We’re proud to see Maryland join the growing list of states that require a background check on every gun sale, which we know Americans overwhelmingly support.”

HB4/SB208 closes the loophole in Maryland’s current background check requirements that allowed sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers to go unchecked. This loophole made it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other people who are legally prohibited from having guns to access these deadly weapons with no background check and no questions asked.

In 2018, five people were shot and killed, and two others were wounded at the shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom. The shooting tragically illustrated the lethality of rifles and shotguns and underscored the dangerous gap in Maryland law that allows prohibited purchasers to avoid a background check by buying these deadly firearms from unlicensed sellers, through sales arranged online or at gun shows.

An updated Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund investigation found that between 2018 and 2020 nearly 10,000 ads offering long guns for sale in Maryland were listed on Armslist where no background check was legally required, including more than 5,500 rifles, nearly 2,700 shotguns, and over 1,700 assault-style rifles. Armslist is just one of several online marketplaces for firearms.

The Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action has prioritized background check legislation for several years. Late last month, more than 300 volunteers with Maryland Moms Demand Action gathered on a new virtual platform for their annual advocacy day. In previous years, volunteers gathered for rallies at the statehouse and continuously met with lawmakers to urge them to support the legislation. However, after working with lawmakers to pass legislation through both chambers, Governor Hogan vetoed HB4/SB208 last May. In response, the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action immediately called for a veto override.

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