MD Bill Looks To Close Gun Law Loophole - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

MD Bill Looks To Close Gun Law Loophole

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MARYLAND - More than 200 people barred from gun ownership, were able to purchase guns because of an apparent loophole in Maryland's Firearm Safety Act of 2013. Lawmakers are now looking to close that loophole.

Under this law, gun dealers are legally allowed to release guns to buyers after seven days, even if a background check hasn't been completed.

Delegate Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) is sponsoring a bill that would require that a background check be completed prior to the sale, transfer or lease of a handgun, regardless of how long it takes.

"If the background check comes back and shows that the person is ineligible because of a history of violent crime or perhaps psychological issues, and they've already released the gun, well, then somebody who wasn't supposed to have it, who could potentially be dangerous, is in possession of a gun, he said.

The background check process would normally take about a week, but a rise in handgun sales has created a huge backlog of up to six months.

"The state should be able to process background checks in a timely way. I mean, it's a little bit like the passport situation. From time to time, you have to wait forever to get a passport," Ronald Geesey of Snow Hill, Md. said.

Gun advocate and General Manager at Crazy Louie's Pawn Shop Steve Kottman says that's unfair for law abiding citizens.

"It makes you feel good. Hey, that's wonderful --these bad people aren't getting guns. But the reality is, most bad people don't get guns from a gun store. Most people that are felons are going to buy it off the street," he said.

He's calling on lawmakers to speed up the process.

"Maryland State Police, obviously they're overwhelmed and I certainly don't blame them. But at the same time, if this division is under funded, if there's not enough people to do this volume of background checks and if you're charging money for these background checks, you should be able to employ people to make it faster. And yet no one is talking about hiring more people to do background checks, no one is talking about trying to make background checks faster," he said.

But for lawmakers, fighting crime is the top priority.

"We already had one incidence where a person who received a gun inappropriately committed a carjacking with that gun in his possession. We do not want to have more incidences where people have gotten guns because of the loophole, were ineligible, and then commit crimes," Cardin said.

Currently, in order to buy a handgun, you must get a handgun license, which requires a background check. Once you get the license, it's valid for 10 years and you can buy up to one handgun per month. But every time you buy one, a fresh background check needs to be completed to make sure your criminal and mental health status have not changed. Cardin says it's imperative that we wait for those checks to come through so that guns don't get in the wrong hands.

The bill was heard in a House Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon. If it passes committee, it will go to the full house for a vote.

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