Under Md. proposal, pleading guilty to stalking would prevent access to guns

WASHINGTON — A new gun control proposal in the Maryland General Assembly would prohibit gun ownership by anyone who has pleaded guilty to stalking.

Concerned that there are few convictions under Maryland’s anti-stalking law, state Sen. Susan Lee — a Democrat representing Montgomery County — is the bill’s chief sponsor. The bill would make guns illegal in the hands of anyone who has pleaded guilty to stalking and been given probation before judgment — a disposition that sets aside the guilty plea.

“We’re hopeful that this would save lives or prevent serious injuries by a person who is stalking a victim and who has a gun,” Lee said.

There have been fewer than 100 convictions for stalking in Maryland in the past 5 years, according to data provided by Lee’s office. Under Maryland law, stalking is a course of conduct that leaves a victim in fear of being harmed. Although it is not a crime of violence, supporters of the measure believe it could be a path to violence.

“A lot of times when a person stalks another, it sometimes could lead to violence, especially if they have a gun,” Lee said.

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