Maryland lawmakers hear opposing sides on a bill to regulate long guns

A Howard County lawmaker has proposed a bill that would add a new regulation to the sales of rifles and long guns in Maryland.

Democratic Del. Vanessa Atterbeary said the bill would make certain background checks are done for all guns, including long guns in secondary sales.

James McGuire, of Frederick County, said he is concerned the bill would “create a class of felon by accident.” McGuire is a member of Patriot Picket, a group that supports Second Amendment rights.

McGuire described a scenario in which two friends go out for an afternoon at a shooting range, and they stop for a bite to eat. “I go inside; he’s in the car with my firearm. I have now effectively loaned him my firearm. We’re now both felons under this bill.”

“There’s an exception for any kind of temporary transfer, regardless of the circumstances,” Atterbeary said, regarding similar scenarios like the one McGuire described.

Atterbeary asked members of one panel opposed to the bill if law-abiding citizens would have any trouble complying with the new regulations.

Mike Doherty, with the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association said, “Most law abiding citizens that I know and hang out with in multiple arenas — public safety and otherwise — consider background checks for lawful citizens for a regularly lawful purchase to be overly invasive.”

Andrea Chamblee, whose late husband, John McNamara, was one of the five people killed in the Capital Gazette shooting in 2018, told lawmakers that while homicides involving the use of long guns might make up a fraction of the gun violence in the state, the impact of even a single death has a tragic ripple effect.

“The Capital Gazette staff can never unsee my husband, John, looking up at the gun pointed at him and then falling, murdered, to the floor,” Chamblee said, her voice trembling.

Chamblee ticked off the names of those killed at the Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis, and she said family and friends of those who were killed are all “impacted by their preventable, senseless deaths.”

A similar bill filed during last year’s General Assembly session failed.

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