Guest commentary: Md. firearms law is saving lives

Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders To Prevent Gun Violence, asked to respond to last week’s series on Gun Wars because he felt it did not fully describe the progress made by the Firearms Safety Act passed last year.

Readers are welcome to respond to DeMarco’s commentary following the usual rules for civil discourse in our terms of use. Representatives of other groups may respond to the series or DeMarco by writing to

By Vincent DeMarco

President of Marylanders To Prevent Gun Violence.

In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed and Governor O’Malley signed into law a landmark new gun violence prevention measure, the Firearms Safety Act, which is already saving lives in our state. We believe it should be a model for the nation.

Just this month a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the gun lobby to overturn the law’s ban on assault weapons and high capacity gun magazines – meaning that these weapons of mass destruction are no longer legal for sale in our state.

Gun deaths are down

And statewide in Maryland, gun deaths have gone down 23% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. Surely, the Baltimore City Police Department’s new policing policies contributed to this decline in gun deaths. But, we at Marylanders To Prevent Gun Violence also believe that the Firearms Safety Act of 2013 played an important part in this progress, particularly its key provision requiring prospective handgun purchasers to first obtain a fingerprint-based license to purchase from the state police.

According to Professor Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center on Gun Policy and Research, handgun purchaser licensing laws in other states have worked well to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. As a result, states with such laws tend to have lower firearms-related death rates than states without such laws.

According to research done by Dr. Webster, when one state, Missouri, repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007, firearm-related homicide rates in the state abruptly increased while remaining stable in neighboring states and nationally.

Fingerprinting not challenged

Importantly, the gun lobby has not challenged this key provision of the Firearms Safety Act either at the polls or in court. After the law passed in 2013, they chose not to try to take it to referendum because they knew they would lose. According to an independent poll by Goucher College, 82% of all Marylanders, including 68% of gun owners, support fingerprint licensing of handgun purchasers.

Although they have unsuccessfully challenged in court the assault weapons ban in the Firearms Safety Act, the gun lobby has not challenged the underlining constitutionality of the fingerprint licensing provision. Neither this provision nor anything else in the Firearms Safety Act infringes upon Marylanders’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Firearms Safety Act also includes other measures which help keep guns out of the wrong hands. Since the law took effect on October 1, 2013, the Maryland State Police has for the first time had the authority to better regulate gun dealers and penalize or even close down rogue dealers whose guns are often responsible for a disproportionate number of guns getting into the hands of criminals. In addition, the new law requires that gun owners report lost or stolen guns so as to discourage people from allowing their guns to get into the wrong hands. Finally, the law makes it harder for people with severe mental problems to get guns.

Other states should follow Maryland

The Firearms Safety Act is a model for how a state can reduce gun violence which other states should emulate.

But, clearly, our job is not done. Even one innocent life lost to gun violence is too many. Even as we make it more difficult for criminals to acquire guns in Maryland, we’ll still be vulnerable to criminals acquiring guns in other states.

In New York City, for example, which has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation and where fingerprint licensing of handgun purchasers has been in effect for decades, 90 percent of the guns used in crime come from out of state.

So we must do all we can to educate the public, lawmakers in other states and members of Congress about how important handgun purchaser licensing is to prevent gun violence.

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7 thoughts on “Guest commentary: Md. firearms law is saving lives

  • August 28, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    Listening to Mr. DeMarco is no different than listening to the arrogant Mr. Bloomberg or the neurotic Moms Demand Action. They function on emotions and avoid facts at all costs. Today, Forbes announced it’s ’10 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.’ listing Baltimore as #7. Also this past week, data released from the DOJ and FBI showed a drop in crime in Chicago since their draconian concealed carry laws were changed and the number of carry permits have RISEN. He would have you believe that your chances of getting shot at Starbuck’s or Kroger’s are astronomically high despite the data showing the opposite due to legal gun carriers. Like a politician, he can spin a lie; like a magician he can misdirect, and like a liberal, he thinks that criminals obey laws, so the more laws, the less crimes committed. Evidence and the real ‘common sense’ have shown us that criminals don’t follow laws, get background checks or buy guns legally. People like DeMarco, the Brady’s, Moms and Bloomberg will eventually show their real colors and hypocrisy. It’s in their nature.

  • August 27, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Another article by a left wing fruit cake confusing his ideology with the truth.

  • August 27, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    Not one single citation linking to a verified unbiased source. The whole article is based on “feelings” & “thoughts” not FACTS.
    How about USING the laws already in place to target CRIMINALS instead of placing an ever greater burden on those who already obey the law?
    Oh, I forgot; most criminals are Democrat voters & it wouldn’t do to upset one’s support would it…….

  • August 27, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    I ignore such laws. I am not subject to gun control laws. I was born under the contract between “The People” and the Government (The Constitution of The United States of America). Makes no difference to me what silly laws liberal fools create and put on the books. Never obeyed such laws and never ever will. End of story.

  • August 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    “And statewide in Maryland, gun deaths have gone down 23% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.”
    Need a source that shows a 23% reduction in gun deaths. Also need a source that correlates 2013’s gun deaths with magazine capacity and the availability of EBR’s. What types of guns were used in the 2013 stats? What types of guns were used in the 2014 stats? How many were murders? How many were self defense shootings? Police shootings? Suicides?
    Don’t expect to throw a stat out there and not expect someone to demand sources.

  • August 26, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    I completely agree with Mr. DeMarco.

    Guns owners are disrespectful of authority. A failure to rely on authorities is an invariable sign of improper and overly independent attitudes. The mere fact that they gather together to talk about guns at gun shops, gun shows, shooting ranges, and on the internet means that they have some plot going against us normal people. A gun owner has no right to associate with another gun owner.

    Therefore, to help ensure our right to happiness and safety we must ban and seize all guns from private hands, and forbid NRA-based criticism towards people who are only trying to help. Searching the homes of all NRA members for any guns and pro-gun literature will go a long way towards reducing crime.

    Common sense requires only uniformed soldiers, police, and other agents of the state have access to firearms, and think of all the money we can save by just taking away the guns from private owners and giving them to the military and police. No person should be able to challenge this by writing to Congress or the President. If they do they should be forced in court to admit to it and then fined a hundred million dollars for each time. Subjecting them to torture will probably change their minds.

    Making it mandatory that church ministers preach against guns or else they can’t get licensed will certainly encourage the church folk to believe like we do.

    People who don’t like all this prove they are on the side of the killers with the guns and should be put in jail along side all the gangbangers and other gun nuts. Letting them sit in jail for a few years before they are charged will give the government plenty of time to find something wrong in their lives. Anything they say, write, or express should be held against them to prove their guilt. We should bring all of them here to Chicago to be tried by former Mayor Daly as judge, and we should allow only mothers who have lost children to gunfire to be on the juries. Any attorney who tries to defend them should be arrested also. If we don’t get the right verdict the first time we can just keep trying them until we do.

    No woman needs to protect herself from rape, assault or murder and should just leave crime prevention to the Police who are properly equipped to investigate following the crime’s completion. Women using a gun in self-defense interferes with and makes the attempted crime a “non-event,” which unnecessarily complicates the Police investigation. Any woman who does this should be put in jail for interfering with an investigation.

    If someone still really, really thinks they have a need for a gun in their home for protection then the Army should just force them to host and feed some armed soldiers.

    Those who claim that the 2nd amendment was given to us because we might someday need guns to use against an oppressive government forget that Constitution has strong internal safeguards to protect our freedoms. So there!

    Long live our Constitution!

  • August 26, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    A pile of fresh BULL SCHIITE on a 100 degree day stinks less than all the lies in this article!

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