Gun-safety bill keyed to minors

February 07, 1992|By Laura Lippman

ANNAPOLIS -- Sally Welch, whose 15-year-old son was shot to death in a relative's home, wants Maryland legislators to know exactly what has changed since they killed a gun-safety bill last year.

The bill has changed, as proponents respond to some of the criticisms that helped defeat it last year. The politics have changed, and a Senate committee that killed it then may treat it more favorably.

But most important to Ms. Welch, in Maryland three children have died and six others have been injured in household gun accidents.

"You teach your children how to take care of themselves," Ms. Welch said. "It just seems like it all went down the tubes because someone else didn't care as much as I did."

Ms. Welch was in Annapolis today to recount her story, as Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse Inc. launches its push for the bill.

Ms. Welch's son -- more than three years later, she prefers not to say or hear his name -- was shot Oct. 5, 1988, by his cousin, who was playing with a gun he found on his father's night stand.

Under Gov. William Donald Schaefer's bill, guns would have to be stored so no one under age 18 can reach them -- kept under lock and key, stored in a locked box, or have a trigger lock.

The proposal has support from law enforcement officials and doctors, but the National Rifle Association and the Maryland State Pistol and Rifle Association plan to fight it. Last year's bill specified that gun owners use trigger locks, which many owners found objectionable.

James L. Milner of the NRA said this year's version is unacceptable because it requires locks on loaded guns, which can be dangerous.

Last year's bill passed the House of Delegates but died on a 6-5 vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which was killing all gun-related legislation.

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