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Moms Demand Action, Everytown Call for Veto Override to Enact Common-Sense Background Check Legislation

May 7, 2020

Volunteers With the Maryland Chapter of Moms Demand Action Urge Lawmakers to Override Veto When They Reconvene This Fall

Veto Comes After Five People Were Shot and Killed and Two Others Were Wounded With a Shotgun During the Mass Shooting at the Capital Gazette Building in 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Today, the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, called on Maryland lawmakers to override Governor Hogan’s veto of HB4/SB208, which would require a background check on all rifle and shotgun sales. This veto will leave open the dangerous gap in Maryland law that makes it easy for convicted felons, violent domestic abusers and other people prohibited from possessing firearms to buy rifles and shotguns with no background check and no questions asked. 

“Maryland will be safer the day we close this deadly loophole than it is today after the Governor’s action,” said Danielle Veith, a volunteer leader with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Marylanders from across the state have advocated tirelessly for the Governor to enact this bipartisan, life-saving legislation. We urge lawmakers to finish the job and override the Governor’s veto when the General Assembly reconvenes. We will be watching and will not go away until there is a background check on every gun sale in our state.”

“It was almost exactly two years ago today when a mass murder took place a mere four miles away from the governor’s mansion,” said Andrea Chamblee, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action whose husband, John McNamara, was among the five people killed in the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom. “Since then, Governor Hogan has not called for a single piece of gun safety legislation and has today decided, instead, to stand in the way of a life-saving measure. It’s appalling, particularly as Maryland fights two public health crises, that he would put more lives in jeopardy by not passing this legislation.”

This loophole is especially dangerous now that the pandemic has prompted an unprecedented increase in gun sales. According to NICS data released this week, 24,705 Maryland long gun sales received a background check from a federally licensed dealer between March and April 2020 — a 134% increase from the same period last year, when there were just 10,558 background checks on long guns. However, because of the loophole in Maryland’s current background check requirements, sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check.

In 2018, five people were shot and killed, and two others were wounded at the shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom. The shooter, who had a history of criminal harassment and threats, was able to legally purchase the shotgun used in the mass shooting. 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.

The Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action has prioritized background check legislation for several years. Volunteers gathered for rallies at the statehouse and continuously met with lawmakers to urge them to support the legislation. Last session, efforts to close Maryland’s dangerous background check loophole were blocked when Senate leadership ran out the clock without taking action. But in December, now-former Sen. Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, announced he would not run for reelection, offering a new opportunity to close gaps in Maryland’s background check system.

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