Unsupervised-gun bill squeaks through House

March 10, 1991|By Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Without a vote to spare, the House o Delegates approved and sent to the Senate yesterday legislation to make it a misdemeanor to leave a loaded, unlocked firearm where a child can gain access to it.

It was the second gun control bill passed by the House in two days.

But a Senate committee killed a nearly identical bill Friday, and chances for approval of the House version there appear slim.

"I think it has a very uphill battle," conceded David S. Weaver, lobbyist for the Washington-based Handgun Control Inc.

Mr. Weaver and other proponents of gun control are already trying to find a way to persuade the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee toreverse its vote Friday that killed Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed ban on military-style assault weapons. The measure was passed by the House the same day.

The child safety bill emerged from the House yesterday, 71-57, getting the minimum constitutional majority of 71 votes required for passage.

Opponents argued that gun locks often do not work.

"A lock, when applied to a loaded gun, turns a bad situation into a dangerous one," said Delegate George W. Owings III, D-Calvert.

But Judiciary Committee Chairman John S. Arnick, D-Baltimore County, said children are killed in firearms accidents nationwide at a rate of one a day. Six children have been killed and five others wounded in gun accidents in Maryland over the past three years, he said.

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