Cracking down on handgun sales One per month: Licensing requirement, mandatory gun training are sensible steps.

November 16, 1995

RECOMMENDATIONS from the Governor's Commission on Gun Violence are bound to disappoint advocates of tough controls on handgun ownership. Yet the panel seems to have come up with a well-balanced set of suggestions with a realistic shot of gaining legislative approval next year in Annapolis.

The commission was pragmatic, if nothing else. A conservative legislature won't go along with radical changes in handgun laws. More gradual changes, though, could win the required votes for passage.

Most of the recommendations are common-sense moves. For instance, limiting handgun sales to one per month per individual would cut down on gun running in Maryland (as a similar law is doing in neighboring Virginia) without imposing an onerous burden on legitimate handgun owners.

Setting up a licensing and registration system for handgun sales is also sensible. It would cover private handgun transfers not now covered by the law. And required firearms training for new gun owners is long overdue: If you are going to own a potentially lethal weapon, a safety training course is essential to avoid accidental shootings and other needless mishaps.

The panel's suggestions fall far short of what Gov. Parris Glendening pledged during his 1994 campaign. But the governor is dealing with a legislature less convinced of the need for major changes in gun legislation. Selling even these limited proposals to conservative leaders will be an uphill battle. But these modest proposalscould help make Maryland a little bit safer.

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