Skip to main content
Government & Politics Justice

House Lawmakers Rally Behind Gun Reform Legislation

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) was joined by her colleagues at a news conference Tuesday addressing plans for gun reform legislation. Photo by Hannah Gaskill

House lawmakers and members of the Maryland chapter of Mothers Demand Action issued an aggressive call Tuesday morning to strengthen and reform state gun laws this legislative session.

“Maryland has some of the strictest gun safety laws in the country, but it is not enough,” said House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). “It is time for the legislature to take action.”

At the forefront of the conversation was House Bill 4, sponsored by Del. Vanessa E. Atterbeary (D-Howard), who said that the legislation will address a “significant loophole” in current law regarding background checks during purchases of firearms. 

As it stands now, people who are prohibited from owning handguns due to prior offenses can still access rifles and shotguns in ways that circumvent background checks. If enacted, this legislation would require that the “transfer,” including the sale, trade or rent, of those weapons be overseen by a licensed arms dealer to prevent that workaround.

Atterbeary also mentioned “common-sense exceptions” to the rule, saying that some temporary shotgun and rifle transfers would lift the background check requirement, using shooting ranges as an example.

Atterbeary cited 30 reported shotgun or rifle-related murders from 2013 to 2017, arguing that mentioning the figure is important because of questions that are brought up during bill hearings concerning the necessity of the legislation for the purposes of crime prevention.

“I will suggest to you that one murder is too many,” she said. “Two? Three? 34? How many do we have to have?”

Atterbeary introduced this legislation last year. It passed in both chambers before dying on the last day of the session.

The legislation was panned by leading House Republicans Tuesday.

“None of these bills will make any headway in addressing the ongoing crisis of violent crime in our state,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel). “Trying to make the public believe these bills will keep them safe, that they will stop the daily bloodshed is beyond disingenuous, it is fundamentally untrue.”

House Republicans said they plan to say more about gun violence legislation at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Veto-overrides were also a major talking point at the Democrats’ news conference Tuesday. Each speaker said the House intends to overturn Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s (R) veto on 2019 legislation that would have put the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board out of business. 

Should that bill be enacted this week, appeal decisions would instead be heard by judges at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) said that while citizens have the right to appeal handgun licensure decisions, the override would remove politics from the handgun registration process.

“It’s what’s important for our community’s safety,” Clippinger said. “We have to feel confident that the police are going to be able to make the right call. If they don’t make the right call, let’s have an impartial observer come in and address those issues.”

Both the House and Senate will discuss veto overrides during floor sessions later this week.

[email protected]


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our website. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

If you have any questions, please email editor Danielle Gaines at [email protected]

To republish, copy the following text and paste it into your HTML editor.


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
House Lawmakers Rally Behind Gun Reform Legislation