The horror and uncertainty we feel in the wake of the attack in the Capital Gazette newsroom has gripped our state, and, like all Marylanders, I share in the grief.
Words of elected leaders will never bring back Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, but our work in state government to address the scourge of gun violence should be focused on honoring their memory through action. I thank the editors of The Capital for their request of me to highlight our efforts on this vital issue.
In the wake of the horrific attack at Sandy Hook, as chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, I was proud to lead the fight to pass the Firearm Safety Act of 2013. That law now prohibits the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. It requires handgun purchasers to obtain a license and submit to robust background checks. It adopted many of the best gun safety practices from around the country.
The FSA has been effective. Because it is more difficult for those with records of violence to obtain licenses to purchase handguns in our state, most crime guns are now purchased originally outside our borders. The FSA makes it more difficult to obtain guns to commit crime, and it has reduced straw purchases of handguns for use in crimes. Crifasi, et al., “The Initial Impact of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 on the Supply of Crime Handguns in Baltimore.” — Russell Sage Foundation, Journal of the Social Sciences.
The FSA has been challenged repeatedly in court, and, as attorney general, I have had the honor to defend it. Our office won the strongest decision in the country upholding Maryland’s ban on the sale of assault weapons, and we have been successful in fending off challenges to the licensing requirements and other safety provisions of the FSA.
My office also enforces our laws and prosecutes criminals. Most recently, working in cooperation with the Maryland State Police, we indicted five individuals for attempted illegal possession of firearms, including one found to be in illegal possession of an AK-47 assault weapon.
In July, I joined with attorneys general from seven other states to stop President Donald Trump’s administration from allowing the Internet distribution of plans that would enable criminals to use 3D printers to make undetectable and untraceable guns.
Put simply, his is an effort to put guns in the hands of people who cannot buy them legally. It is also a way to make guns without serial numbers so that they cannot be traced when used in crimes. It presents a very real threat to public safety, and we were successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the Administration from going down this very dangerous path.
This year the General Assembly was successful in passing a Red Flag Law and a ban on bump stocks. Both are important steps forward, but Maryland is not an island. Despite our vigorous efforts and effective existing gun laws like the FSA, crime guns come across our borders from states without protections as strong as ours. And individuals who should never have access to firearms obtain them in our state as well.
In order to continue to make progress on gun safety, I will continue to enforce Maryland’s laws. But meaningful steps must be taken at the federal level as well. Congress must enact reasonable measures to stop dangerous criminals from obtaining guns.
As attorney general, I will continue to devote myself to protecting all Marylanders. I will continue to defend our laws, and prosecute those who violate them. I will work with our partners in Congress and in our neighboring jurisdictions to make commonsense reforms. In short, I will continue to do everything I can to keep Maryland safe.
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