MD legislation requiring background checks for rifles, shotguns sparks debate

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MD legislation requiring background checks for rifles, shotguns sparks debate

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A bill that would close the loophole on secondhand gun purchases is causing quite the controversy in Annapolis. 

While some advocates say this legislation could help save lives, others don’t think it’s the way to cut down on crime.

“We’re going after the wrong thing. This is a feel-good measure by the majority party. And it will do nothing to make Marylanders safer, said Delegate Wayne Hartman (R-District 38C).  Members of Moms Demand Action took over the Maryland House of Delegates Thursday morning urging lawmakers to pass House Bill 4. Legislation that would require background checks on all rifles and shotgun sales in the state.  “Long guns are just as dangerous as any kind of firearm, and every responsible gun owner should have a background check,” said Moms Demand Action member, Andrea Chamblee.

Currently, background checks are only required if you’re purchasing a handgun in Maryland. But supporters say expanding this requirement to include long guns would provide an extra safety measure and help reduce crime.  “Far too often we are having gun violence that involves long guns and so to that end, I think it is an opportunity to close a loophole,” said Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-District 37A).

But other lawmakers say the bill would do more harm than good, and that they should be passing legislation that focuses on harsher penalties for criminals.

“If this bill passes and I loan my gun to somebody to go hunting, the penalty to myself and them is greater then if you broke into my house and stole a gun. How ridiculous is that,” said Hartman.  “Saying that we are fighting crime by doing things like HB four is a disservice to our constituents. It’s not making people any safer,” said Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-District 37B).  Chamblee, who’s husband was killed in the 2018 Capital Gazette shooting, says its time for legislators to step up to the plate.  “Every day there’s a memory of John, and it was so preventable. We have to prevent this,” said Chamblee.

But lawmakers say there’s still so many more questions that need to be answered before they move forward.

“There’s no reasonable way to enforce the law, and who’s going to enforce it? These are open questions that I have and it’s just difficult,” said Delegate Chris Adams (R-District 37B).  While it’s too soon to tell if the bill will pass this session, advocates say if they can save just one life then they’ve done their job.  On Thursday, the bill went into its second reading in the house with some delegates offering some amendments to the legislation. A special order has now been put in place, and a third reading will be set at a later date.

Courtesy: WMDT-TV