Maryland Bill Linking Criminal Database Could Disqualify Thousands of Gun Owners

| by Allison Geller

The Maryland legislature is considering a bill that could disqualify thousands of gun owners from legal ownership of their weapons. The legislation would allow police to use link their databases to identify gun owners with felonies or violent crimes on their records.

As it stands now, those convicted of felonies and violent crimes in the state are not allowed to own weapons. But the bill’s sponsor, Del. Luiz Simmons (D-Montgomery County) pointed out that State Police cannot adequately enforce this if they can’t run systematic checks.

Linking the registries would disqualify 10 percent of registered gun owners, or about 110,000 people, State Police estimate. That would increase by 1 percent each subsequent year. Simmons’ legislation dictates that police run the check twice annually.

The database wouldn’t be without its costs: it would require about $300,000 to create, along with $1 million to pay for seven new full-time troopers to investigate the findings.

Gun advocates object to the legislation.

“This smacks of a police state mentality," said a resident named Ronald Smit before a committee hearing Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that when California linked its databases in 2007 it seized more than 10,000 guns and identified another 40,000 last year that need to be taken from gun owners convicted of violent crimes.

About 1.1 million gun owners are listed in Maryland’s gun registry, and 3 million in its criminal database, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

Sources: Associated Press