Prosecutors weigh in on approved Md. gun, sexual predator bills

A general view of the front of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)(AP/Patrick Semansky)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A day after Maryland lawmakers passed a series of gun-related bills, local prosecutors are breaking down how they can use those new laws as tools to protect the community.

State lawmakers passed a bill to enable judges to order someone to temporarily give up their firearms if they are found to pose an immediate threat. That will make a difference, according to Chief of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit Debbie Feinstein.

“If someone has a suspicion of a mental health concern, then they can go essentially get a protective order that’s going to be able to get the guns out of the hands of the person,” Feinstein said.

Maryland lawmakers also approved a bill to ensure gun owners convicted of domestic violence crimes surrender their firearms.

“The process for making that happen was not firmly in place and now it is,” Feinstein said.

The bill she thinks could make the most difference is called the repeat sexual predator prevention act, which pertains to the trial of known sex offenders.

“This new bill is a tool for us particularly to go after sexual predators and people who are repeatedly committing sexual offenses,” said John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County at a news conference.

If the defense argues the act in question was consensual or the victim is fabricating it, Feinstein said the bill allows for a new prosecutorial avenue.

“In the case of a minor victim, we are able to ask the court to introduce evidence of prior predatory behavior,” Feinstein said. “And again there’s a much clearer lane that did not exist until this bill got signed into law and it will go into effect in October.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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