ANNAPOLIS, M.D., – Volunteers with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today joined Maryland State Senator William C. Smith Jr. and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary in urging Maryland lawmakers to pass legislation that will protect victims of domestic abuse by requiring convicted domestic abusers to relinquish their guns.
Research shows that nearly four out of 10 Maryland women have reported experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime. The costs are high: More than 187 victims died in domestic violence homicide incidents in Maryland . And, guns are the weapon of choice: Nearly 60 percent of domestic violence homicides in Maryland were committed using a firearm, according to the most recent available data.
“Last year when we discussed this policy, I held up photos of six women who were shot to death by someone disqualified from possessing a handgun,” said Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary. “How many more people have to die before we stop playing politics and start saving lives? The General Assembly, judiciary, police and States Attorney’s Office need to come together to get this life saving legislation done. We’ve been here before. How many lives could have been saved if this loophole did not exist? Marylanders deserve better.”
“As a soon-to-be ‘dad demanding action’ this April, I am proud to sponsor this legislation for the third year in a row,” said Senator William C. Smith Jr. “When I think about the stories of the victims of gun violence, I am reminded that these incidents happen from Washington County to Worcester County and everywhere in between. The time is up and the time is now to pass this legislation and to close this loophole.”
“Far too many families in Maryland are currently living in fear of a convicted abuser returning with a gun to inflict gruesome violence upon them and their loved ones,” said Jennifer Stapleton, volunteer leader with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We owe it to ourselves, our children and the thousands of domestic violence survivors across our state to close this dangerous loophole. Too many lives are on the line.”
Maryland law already prohibits domestic abusers from having guns if they are subject to a final protective order or are convicted of a disqualifying domestic violence crime. While state law requires prohibited abusers under protective orders to turn in their guns while the orders are in place, there’s no such requirement for convicted abusers. These prohibited abusers would fail a background check if they tried to buy a new gun, but, because of this dangerous gap in Maryland law, they can go directly home from court, access guns they already own and use them to harm ex-partners, family members and others.