Prince George’s Co. police chief testifies in Senate Democrats’ hearing on gun violence

FILE — Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski speaks during a news conference at Prince George's County Hospital Center, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Cheverly, Maryland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci File)

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after an off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was shot and killed while defending his neighbor, the county’s police chief urged members of Congress to close loopholes in the nation’s gun laws.

“In Prince George’s County, 80 people were murdered last year, and 69 of them were murdered with a handgun or a firearm,” Chief Hank Stawinski testified Wednesday to a hearing on gun violence conducted by Senate Democrats.

Stawinski recommended that Congress tighten federal laws in cases of domestic violence, prohibiting gun possession for dating partners — not just spouses, live-in partners or couples who share a child in common.

“Current or former dating partners are more likely to injure their victims than spouses,” Stawinski said in testimony.

The police chief added that more must be done to remove guns from those who are prohibited from having them. In Sgt. Mujahid Ramzziddin’s fatal shooting two weeks ago, he was killed by five shotgun blasts fired by Glenn Tyndell, 37, of Largo, who was later killed by police. Tyndell had a long history of domestic violence; three open warrants, including for assault; and an active protective order against him, which prohibited him from possessing a firearm. 

Stawinski also said individuals convicted of the crime of stalking should be prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The Democrats-only hearing, co-chaired by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., saw testimony from a number of individuals whose lives have been upended by gun violence, including the parents of school shooting victims.

“It offends the dignity of our nation that our children attend our schools in fear,” Stawinski said.

Mass shootings like last month’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, cause the nation acute pain, Stawinski said, but communities like Prince George’s County suffer chronic pain from recurring gun deaths.

“They don’t receive national attention — but I feel that, and my officers feel that, and my community feels that,” he said.

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