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Blog COVID-19 in Maryland Justice

Hogan on Gun Stores: ‘Hasn’t Been on the Top of My Priority List’

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) deferred to federal guidelines on business operations Friday, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle lobbied his office about whether gun stores should remain open for business while other retailers have shut down.

Democratic lawmakers sent Hogan a letter on Thursday, urging him to close gun stores in the state.

Forty-nine delegates and nine senators signed on to the letter, which was led by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard).

“Guns are not essential to solving this pandemic, nor will they make people safer. At this time, guns are only hurting vulnerable populations ― victims of domestic violence and individuals already prone to suicide are most at risk,” the lawmakers wrote. “Marylanders are home, tensions are high, every Marylander is eager to save lives; however, gun stores remain open creating fear for our most vulnerable citizens.”

On Friday morning, the Maryland House Republican Caucus wrote a letter of its own, saying that some of their Democratic colleagues “have built their careers on trying to put gun stores out of business, well before any pandemic.” The GOP caucus urged Hogan to keep gun stores open, in line with the federal guidance.

“Without a doubt, Marylanders should be at home unless seeking or providing some essential service,” the caucus wrote. “Protecting oneself and family is not just an essential service, it is an essential human right. Our colleagues not only fail to acknowledge this, they also fail to acknowledge the fact that, in many communities, a firearm is necessary not simply to protect oneself, but also to provide food for families.”

Asked about the letters during a State House press conference on Friday afternoon, Hogan said he hadn’t seen them.

“It just hasn’t been on the top of my priority list,” Hogan said.

On Friday afternoon, the advocacy group Moms Demand Action said there has been a 95% increase in background checks completed in Maryland in March 2020, compared to March 2019. According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, there were 29,414 firearm background checks in the state last month.

The group urged Hogan to sign House Bill 4, which would require background checks on private sales and some transfers of shotguns and rifles.

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Hogan on Gun Stores: ‘Hasn’t Been on the Top of My Priority List’