A bill that would penalize adults who leave loaded guns within reach of children was enacted yesterday by the General Assembly, giving the Schaefer administration a victory after two years of struggle.
The measure requires gun owners to secure loaded weapons so children under 16 don't have unsupervised access to them. It passed easily yesterday in the Senate. The House of Delegates had approved it earlier.
As amended by the Senate, the bill was acceptable to the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. The Maryland group opposed the bill's original requirement for trigger locks, but the objection became moot because even locked guns left within reach of children could subject the owner to prosecution.
Violators could be fined up to $1,000.
Fifteen to 20 children die each year after being shot by guns
found around the home, said David S. Iannucci, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's chief legislative aide.