MARYLAND

Maryland gun control: Del. Simmons aims to close loophole

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A Maryland lawmaker is on a “one-man crusade” to close a gun control loophole. It comes less than a week after Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law some of the toughest restrictions in the country.

Del. Luiz Simmons worries the state is failing at keeping guns of the hands of convicted criminals. In Maryland, anyone found guilty of a violent crime must surrender the weapon, but enforcing that law is where he says the trouble lies.

“If I bought a gun in 1990 and then yesterday I was convicted of domestic assault, how would the State Police or anyone else know to come and take the gun away?” he asks.

It’s a question Del. Simmons of Montgomery County isn’t comfortable leaving unanswered.

“One day we’re going to have an awful, awful tragedy and discover the person had a gun that they should have surrendered a long time ago,” he says.

Maryland law requires gun owners convicted of violent crimes to hand over their guns, but the technology used for making sure this happens has a bit of a glitch.

“This is incredible, but true. In Maryland, we have two computers that do not speak to each other.”

State Police have another computer listing gun owners by social security number and date of birth.

“We need a systemic way for the State Police to take the 400,000-plus gun owners in Maryland and run them through the Department of Corrections database.”

He’s petitioning for Gov. O’Malley to put up $300,000 for new software, linking the two databases, plus another $40,000 or so for an operator to keep daily tab on convicted felons so they surrender their guns. He says the law is only enforced now through tips.

“Regardless on your position on gun control, whether you believe in the Second Amendment or you don’t believe in the Second Amendment, all of us should be able to find common ground with the proposition that convicted criminals and domestic abusers should not have guns,” Del. Simmons says.

Maryland State Police and the Department of Corrections have not commented.

Read more about Del. Simmons' proposal

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