WASHINGTON – Maryland earned a grade of “A-“for its gun-safety laws in a report by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that gave grades of “D” or “F” to 31 other states.
“Maryland has some really good gun laws,” said Anne Rosello, associate director of communications at the Brady Campaign. “It requires background checks for all guns, when some states don’t.”
Only six states got an “A” in the report from the Brady Campaign. The state’s high marks were welcomed by Leah Barrett, the executive director of CeaseFire Maryland, but she said there is still more to do, especially in law enforcement.
“We need tools and resources” to enforce gun laws, Barrett said. This includes “more money, more cops on the beat, more detectives and better computer resources.”
The eighth annual report rated states on whether they had seven types of gun laws, ranging from trigger-lock laws to a requirement that background checks be done for private sales.
Maryland scored high marks for its laws aimed at protecting children from gun violence, such as those that limit access to handguns and assault weapons by unsupervised youth. The state also requires built-in locks on guns as well as a seven-day waiting period and background check.
The state’s lowest grade, a “C,” came because Maryland limits the ability of local governments to pass gun laws that are tougher than the state’s laws. The Brady report said Maryland allows local governments to regulate guns only in cases involving minors and in places of assembly, a level of flexibility that it criticized as “minimal.”
Rosello said urban areas, for example, might want to pass stricter measures to deal with higher crime rates.
But gun-rights advocates disputed the notion that gun laws lower gun-related crimes.
“Maryland already has plenty of gun laws but it hasn’t lowered crime in Baltimore,” said Sanford Abrams, the vice-president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association in Baltimore.
Gun laws will not deter a person who intends to break other laws, such as committing murder, he said.
“The underlying theme is they are criminals,” Abrams said.
He said there are better solutions than creating new laws. To prevent gun accidents involving children, Abrams emphasized educating children about what to do if they come in contact with guns.
Maryland’s grades did not change from last year, but the state did earn a new distinction, a “Sensible Safety Star,” for strengthening a law aimed at disarming domestic abusers.
“Women need protection from domestic abusers that abuse to the next level,” Rosello said. “It’s important for the state to recognize that it should take guns out of the hands of these people.”
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