Maryland Considers Linking Gun Registry to Criminal Database

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File photo of guns. (Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

File photo of guns. (Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The House of Delegates is considering a bill that would link Maryland’s gun registry to its criminal database.

State law requires gun owners to surrender their weapons if they’re convicted of felonies or any violent crimes, but Del. Luiz Simmons, D-Montgomery, said Maryland State Police lack a systematic way of enforcing this. They can’t use their databases to identify gun owners convicted of crimes.

Simmons is chief sponsor of legislation to make that link.

State Police estimate that if they linked the databases, they would find 10 percent of registered gun owners — about 110,000 people — would be disqualified. They estimate a rate of 1 percent each year thereafter.

Under Simmons’ plan, police would run a systematic check at least twice a year.

The Department of Legislative Services believes it would cost about $300,000 to create the database. The department also anticipates a need for seven new full-time troopers to investigate findings from the new database, with a cost of more than $1 million a year for salaries and equipment.

California linked its gun and criminal registries in 2007 and has since sized more than 10,000 guns from people convicted of violent crimes, according to a news release from Simmons’ office. As of last year, the state had identified another 40,000 guns that police needed to track down, the news release states.

There are about1.1 million records in Maryland’s gun registry and more than 3 million in the criminal database, according to the Department of Legislative Services’ report.

Several independent gun advocates submitted written testimony before a Tuesday hearing. They argued against the measure, calling it unnecessary and potentially invasive.

“This smacks of a police state mentality,” said a resident named Ronald Smith.

Simmons was set to testify before the House Judicial Committee Tuesday evening.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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