Violent crime is far too prevalent in our lives. It is brought home daily when we turn on the television, listen to the radio or pick up the newspaper.
Last month, it came home for me, as it has for so many others. My husband, Andrew, and his pharmacy staff were held at gunpoint by a man who jumped the counter and demanded narcotics. Fortunately, Andrew and the pharmacy staff were not harmed physically. For more than a decade, Andrew has served our community as an independent neighborhood pharmacist. He had never experienced any threats of violence, until that night. Our children and I have never feared him going to work and not coming home. In the blink of an eye, our five young children could have lost their father, and I could have lost my husband. Stories like this are happening all over Maryland, and far too often they end in tragedy.
These acts of violence are often committed by stolen guns. Maryland already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Guns are both dangerous weapons and durable goods. They don’t disappear after being stolen. They are often trafficked to be used in violent crimes. FBI data from 2012 to 2017 showed more than $829 million worth of guns were reported stolen. That’s an estimated 1.8 million guns. It is estimated that more than 15,000 guns were stolen during that period in Maryland.
Under current law, the penalty for stealing a gun is the same as the penalty for stealing a bicycle, a cellphone or a college textbook. This is unbelievable and unacceptable. Stealing a gun in Maryland should be a felony.
This is why I introduced House Bill 750. Passing this law will send a huge message to criminals that gun theft will not be tolerated. It will also help deter criminals from targeting law-abiding gun owners, because most thefts are not from gun dealers but rather individual owners. Going after criminals with stolen guns and holding them accountable is the first step in ending this violence in our state.
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