August 25, 2014

Guest commentary: Md. firearms law is saving lives

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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 Len@MarylandReporter.com

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 Webster, when one state, Missouri, repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007, firearm-related homicide rates in the state abruptly increased while remaining stable in neighboring states and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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Gun Wars: Background checks don’t keep guns from mentally ill – See more at: http://marylandreporter.com/category/news/#sthash.QKmILpYo.dpuf

 

  • Bob the Democrat

    Liar, liar pants on fire.

  • dwb1

    Gotta love gun prohibitionists, they love to make up their own facts. Webster’s “research” was based on 5 data points. Once the fingerprinting requirement was removed murders went down. In reality, murders are extremely volatile one year to the next. With 5 data points, I can make up any story I like.

    Baltimore is the heroin capital of the East Coast. Let’s see, From Oct 2013 to Jan 2014, we were having nearly a murder a day in Baltimore. The Polar vortex slowed things down and kept people inside. Since May we have had… nearly a murder a day. I always wonder, the Baltimore Police twitter feed shows drugs and guns confiscated together… and is only thankful the guns are off the street. Because, dealers who manage to smuggle heroin into the country from the Middle East, where is principally made, will have trouble getting more guns to guard their stash.

    So sad that people think Marylander’s are stupid enough to fall for Vinnie’s and Websters made up nonsense.

  • dwb1

    Murder is on the decline nationally, but Baltimore, and Maryland specifically have woefully underperformed the nation. Maryland hovers somewhere between the 5th and 7th most murderous state, 70% happens in Baltimore. Maybe the fact that industrial jobs left Baltimore, along with the people, leaving the city a mess of vacant properties and median income less than Alabama has something to do with all the crime and murder. Baltimore is 40 times more dangerous than Howard or Mont County, measured by violent crime and shootings.

    Baltimore needs jobs and a thriving economy, not more silly gun laws that the heroin dealers will continue to ignore.

  • Dale McNamee

    From the article : ” The Firearms Safety Act, which is already saving lives in our state.”

    Really ? Then, what’s going on in Baltimore, where it seems that there’s a shooting every day ?

    As for statistics… Mark Twain was reported that there’s ” Lies, Damned LIes, and Statistics…”

  • Harlem Globetrotter

    I guess all of the shootings that continuously plague Baltimore City we see on the news constantly are figments of our imagination. I wasn’t aware that gun laws were obeyed by criminals, being that the what defines a criminal is that they don’t obey laws? 1+1=3 now also. This is a great epiphany, there must also be gallant unicorns trotting down North Avenue and Cherry Hill celebrating all of the lives saved by the ridiculous gun laws of this state. It takes a really special kind of logic to disarm innocent citizens while further empowering the criminals who are gonna keep their guns anyway. BECAUSE THEY DON’T FOLLOW ANY LAWS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Absolutely insane.

  • Robert Johnson

    I see you forgot that this law was “for the children”. Explain how? To date 12 juveniles have been killed by gun. This time last year there were 10. I guess it’s just another lie from Vinnie “the scum” ! !

    • Doug Hansen

      Two commenters in a row claiming “lies”. The facts are true, it’s the misguided reasoning that morphs those facts into explaining away my Rights. Vinnie REALLY BELIEVES what he writes…really believes, somehow, that criminals get firearms in the same manner you and I legally obtain them. How then, does he explain the booming heroin market in Baltimore when the law doesn’t allow it to anyone? Yes, they get it the same way they get their guns. So, the law did nothing, but make it harder for the law abiding citizen to protect themselves. Ban guns completely, Vinnie, then see what a mess you create. Thanks also to the governor…ugh.

  • Jeff O’

    There is so much fail in this diatribe, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll start
    by asking, “what part of infringed don’t you understand?” I love how these progressives think you should be fingerprinted to exercise one right but you shouldn’t need ID to exercise another.

  • jkey

    Thanks for the eloquently written lies.

  • Reductio ad absurdum

    Gun sales in Maryland surged in 2013 such that firearms ownership in the state is at an all time high. If we are to assume causality as PR strategist Mr. DeMarco does, this surge in firearms ownership has resulted in a reduction in gun-related homicides. Perhaps Maryland should go shall issue, as Illinois has, and Baltimore will experience even greater reductions in gun-related killings as is being observed in Chicago.

  • River Mud

    Violent crimes, including gun crimes, have been decreasing for 30 years. Mr. DeMarco is well aware of that fact. In the 10 months the law has been in effect, Baltimore homicides have increased over the same month in the previous year in 5 of those 10 months. (3 of the other 5 months were in the middle of our historic long, cold, wet winter). While this doesn’t show that the Firearm Safety Act has WORSENED gun crime, it’s also a blatant lie to claim that the law has in any way positively affected gun crimes, including the most important gun crime – murder/homicide. The reality is what we all knew it would be – this law would have, in actuality, no impact on crime whatsoever, since criminals (most gun violence suspects in Maryland have previously been arrested for gun crimes) do not enroll in gun safety courses, psychological screenings, state police thumbprints, or background checks. I support reasonable gun control (enhanced background checks, waiting periods, stiffer punishments for gun crimes, no early release for gun crime convicts), but it’s commonly admitted that this law very much missed the mark – especially with the way it exempts ex-police and ex-military personnel from compliance (since ex-police or ex-mililtary personnel have NEVER gone off the rails and committed violent crimes with assault weapons). As such, the majority of the law will eventually fall in federal court – a fact that DeMarco is likely already aware of, but isn’t sharing with his supporters.

  • River Mud

    Let’s not forget Firearm Ban guru Mr. Frosh – he of “I certainly deserve a concealed carry permit, however, you peasants do not.”

  • Jack Lee

    Daniel Webster’s research has serious flaws, and he was confronted on it in court. Just as another commenter said, he selectively chose data points to support his conclusion, just as Mr. DeMarco is doing here in this article.

    Also, polling does not indicate whether a policy is effective or even constitutional. Our society should follow the rule of law, which includes protecting our rights, and they should not be subject to the political whims of the majority. Vinny DeMarco’s line of reasoning is dangerous.

  • Kenneth Moore

    “An
    unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no
    protection; it creates no office; it
    is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

    Norton v.
    Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 426 (1886)

  • Cliff Williams

    Funny that the writer doesn’t mention and espouse the wonderfulness of Maryland’s ballistic fingerprinting law. Oh wait! That’s because after millions of dollars it has yet to solve one crime or convict one criminal.

    • River Mud

      Lobbyist DeMarco doesn’t get paid if laws WORK, he gets paid if laws GET PASSED. Once the law’s no longer in danger of being repealed, I don’t think he’s overly concerned
      whether the law he helped pass solves a single crime.

  • Kenneth Moore

    This guy Vinny doesn’t read nor did the Federal Judge. Heller is very clear.

    A total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an

    entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the

    lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny

    the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the

    place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster.

    Public safety is not to be considered under ‘any standard of scrutiny”!

    All the number and percentage of shooting or deaths due to criminal neglect is just not
    keeping with judicial jurisprudence.

  • clairem

    It’s unconstitutional, it prevents people from being prepared to protect themselves and their communities from 2- and 4-legged predators, and the rate of rape skyrocketed in Baltimore when stricter laws went into effect. Oh, and the carjacking–with guns that were not legally obtained or carried. And FBI stats show most gun crimes are committed by people already convicted of crimes, and most of those killed by guns also were already convicted of crimes. So disarming ordinary citizens doesn’t stop gangbangers. But, keep saying it so it at least will be true in your Orwellian mind.

  • Read Me

    Did you ever come to realize that the introduction of the Firearms Safety Act initiated a massive spike in gun sales, meaning more Marylanders that have not owns firearms before are now proud firearms owners? Criminals don’t intend on targeting civilians who fight back. This could very well also be the reason why your so called “statistics” of, “gun deaths have gone down 23% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.”

    You should be afraid of guns in the hands of criminals, NOT guns in the hands of law abiding citizens. The introduction of this law has done nothing to get guns out of the hands of criminals, but only stains the hands of law abiding citizens that have done NOTHING wrong. When there’s a bump in the night and the police are going to take an excruciating two-five minutes to arrive you can cower in fear while I’ll be making sure not a single person living under my roof is going to get harmed. There’s a saying, “better to have it and not need, than to need it and not have it.” I’m a law abiding citizen, I am a gun owner, I stand on the same side of civilization as you, do not associate me as a criminal just because I choose a different alternative than you.

  • River Mud

    Oops. Apparently, implying that the 40% of Maryland residents who are legal gun owners are criminals-in-waiting turned out to be a bad strategy for getting elected to the governor’s office. Sounds like Anthony Brown took a few too many talking points from Vinnie DeMarco!

  • BlueMoon 21850

    Doesn’t Forbes still rate Baltimore as around the 3rd most dangerous city to live in the United States. Wake up you POS loser.

    Lol like criminals that want guns are going to get finger printed, background check and take a safety course. A little ferry dust and good thoughts will work just as good. The credit goes to good police. States manipulate crime stats all the time with plee bargains etc.

  • River Mud

    As violent crime in Maryland continues to spiral out of control, I suppose Mr. DeMarco will be printing a retraction soon? “About that Firearms Safety Act – Turns Out, Basically a Waste of Time.”

    • River Mud

      Still waiting for a retraction from Mr. DeMarco, who has allegedly resigned several of his gun control posts as murders and shootings in Maryland are out of control for the second year since this atrocious law was passed. Over 2500 shootings including almost a thousand gun deaths in Baltimore alone since DeMarco promised this law would “start saving lives immediately,” and almost all of those guns were obtained by methods not addressed by DeMarco’s law.

  • Jason Roberts

    Oh yea. This law is saving so many lives… Baltimore just had the highest murder rate it’s had in over 40 years or so… These gun laws seem to be working out great…

  • River Mud

    I would love an update to the statistics behind the “already saving lives” deal. As the rest of the nation becomes safer every year, Maryland is marching back to the 1990s (and perhaps 1980s) in terms of gun violence. Great law, folks. Just outstanding. And to think, it only costs Maryland taxpayers $15 million per year to implement.

  • Red-tailed Hawk

    It’s working great DeMarco… Baltimore is dying proof.