Governor Hogan has an opportunity to enact landmark gun safety legislation this week by signing HB 4, a bill that would expand Maryland’s background check requirement to include all sales of shotguns and rifles. As the deadline to sign HB 4 approaches, Governor Hogan should use this opportunity to protect communities and save lives by closing this dangerous loophole.
HB 4 would close the loophole that makes it easy for prohibited purchasers to get their hands on rifles and shotguns, which, as evidenced by the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom, are every bit as dangerous as handguns. This session, legislators prioritized the bill and sent it to the governor’s desk before the legislature closed in response to the pandemic — demonstrating lawmakers’ continued commitment to closing this dangerous loophole in Maryland law.
There’s been an increase in gun sales during the pandemic. According to NICS data released earlier this morning, 24,705 long gun sales received a background check from a federally licensed dealer between March and April 2020 — a 134% increase from the same period last year, when there were just 10,558 background checks on long guns.
However, because of the loophole in Maryland’s current background check requirements, sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check. This loophole makes it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other people who are legally prohibited from having guns to access these deadly weapons with no background check and no questions asked. The current surge in gun purchases makes this gap in the law especially dangerous.
Maryland Moms Demand Action have advocated for this policy for years, holding rallies and meeting with lawmakers to urge them to pass HB 4. Last session, efforts to close Maryland’s dangerous background check loophole were blocked when since-departed Senate leadership ran out the clock.