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Maryland Legislator Wants To Close Gun Law Loophole

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A Montgomery County legislator worries that the state can't keep guns out of the hands of violent convicts.
Keith Lafaille: http://www.flickr.com/photos/klafaille/6218726857/
A Montgomery County legislator worries that the state can't keep guns out of the hands of violent convicts.

It was just a week ago that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed one of the most extensive gun control measures in the country into law. But now one legislator is pushing for a new gun law.

Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons tried to close a so-called "loophole" in state gun laws during this year's session. But he gained no traction, saying the O'Malley administration was too focused on getting the assault weapon ban and strict licensing requirements passed—which it did.  So now the Democrat is looking to build support for next year on closing the loophole he says allows anyone convicted of violent crimes to keep guns they owned before they went to prison.  At fault for that, he says, is two computers that can't communicate with each other.

"One computer that contains all of the criminal convictions maintained by the department of public safety and corrections.  It's biometric, it works on fingerprints.  The other computer that contains all the names and addresses of gun owners is maintained by the state police.  It's not biometric.  It runs on social security numbers and dates of birth," he says.

Simmons says that this creates a dangerous situation. "There is no way state police unless they luck out, or get a tip, can on a systematic basis notify that person you must surrender your gun or face serious consequences."

In addition to what he calls ambivalence from the governor's office, Simmons says there are other concerns to be addressed on closing the loophole, such as privacy, even though convictions are already on the public record.  And as for gun ownership records?

"I'm not suggesting they be made public.  I am suggesting that state police have every right under the existing law.  It is a serious felony to continue to possess a firearm after you've been convicted of a violent crime," he says.

To build support, Simmons is starting a petition drive on his website.

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