This morning, the Baltimore Sun reported Senator Bobby Zirkin will resign next month and not seek reelection. Sen. Zirkin was chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee — a crucial committee for gun safety legislation — which in past sessions has considered legislation that would require background checks on all sales of rifles and shotguns in the state.
Last session, volunteers with Maryland Moms Demand Action spent countless hours urging lawmakers to pass such legislation. However, efforts to close Maryland’s dangerous background check loophole were blocked when Senate leadership ran out the clock. Sen. Zirkin’s resignation gives elected officials who have the courage to stand up for gun safety an opportunity to pass this and other common-sense gun violence prevention legislation in 2020.
In October, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary pre-filed legislation to require background checks on all sales of rifles and shotguns in the state. Volunteers with Maryland Moms Demand Action plan to return to the statehouse next session to support this legislation.
Under current Maryland law, sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check. That makes it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers and other people who are legally prohibited from having guns to obtain these deadly weapons from unlicensed sellers through sales arranged online or at gun shows. For more than two decades, Maryland law has required background checks on all handgun sales.
According to EveryStat, more than 650 people die by guns in an average year in Maryland and gun deaths have increased by 6 percent between 2008 and 2017. Black people in Maryland are 16 times as likely as their white peers to die by gun homicide.
While handguns are responsible for the majority of gun homicides in Maryland, the tragic shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom stands as a reminder of the deadly consequences when long guns and shotguns to fall into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.
If you would like to speak with volunteers with Maryland Moms Demand Action or have questions about upcoming gun safety legislation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.