Close That Gun-Sale Loophole

March 24, 1993

Pssst. Wanna buy a gun? Without any State Polic background check? Without any seven-day waiting period?

Easy. Here is what you need to do: Attend one of the estimated 40 gun shows held each year in Maryland and buy an arsenal-full of weapons, if you wish, from a private collector at the show. You avoid all the government red tape, all the fees and all the snooping policemen. You evade all the gun-control laws and purchase as many guns as you want -- for immediate use, without any questions asked.

That's the way it now works in Maryland. A giant loophole exists in state law that lets convicted criminals or those with mental illnesses purchase firearms despite apparent legal prohibitions. The trick is to buy these weapons at gun shows from private dealers.

This is an outrageous scam, one that favors criminal elements and those who ought not to own a gun. Yet once again, the Maryland gun-owner lobby is staunchly opposing a Schaefer administration bill that simply aims to close this big loophole. Even the state's gun dealers, who are losing business to the so-called private collectors, want this bill shot down.

"If they start to clamp down on private collectors, we'll be next," say the collectors.

What hogwash. Clearly, Maryland's law governing gun transactions has a serious flaw in it that ought to be corrected. That's all this bill would do. Do gun dealers want to see private collectors continue to have an unfair advantage over them at gun shows? Shouldn't these sellers have to abide by state law, too?

This loophole puts the sincere, lawful gun dealers at a tremendous disadvantage. It is unfair to them.

It is also dangerous to the citizens of Maryland to allow criminals and mentally unbalanced individuals to buy weapons at gun shows without undergoing any security check or waiting period as required in all other circumstances.

We urge Sen. Walter Baker, D-Cecil, and his Judicial Proceedings Committee to act decisively to close this dangerous loophole so the state's gun law can be applied uniformly for all people in all circumstances -- even at gun shows.

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