Montgomery delegate seeks to close gun loophole -- Gazette.Net



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Less than a week after the governor signed a set of sweeping gun control measures into law, a Montgomery County lawmaker wants to close a remaining loophole in state firearms law.

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville wants to make sure two databases used by state law enforcement agencies are linked, so a record of current owners of regulated firearms, such as handguns or several soon-to-be-banned semi-automatic rifles, can be easily cross-checked with a database of people convicted of violent crimes.

Currently, those who purchase regulated firearms must provide information — such as their names, addresses, driver’s license number and the type of weapon purchase — that the Maryland State Police puts into a database known as the Maryland Automated Firearm System Services, or MAFSS, said Sgt. Marc Black, spokesman for the state police.

A separate database, the Criminal Justice Information System, or CJIS, contains records of criminal events, such as arrests and convictions. That database uses fingerprints as an identifier for each person, while the MAFSS system does not, making it difficult for the two systems to share information.

Simmons says the two need to be linked so that when a person is convicted of a violent crime, police will immediately be able to see if the person owns any firearms that would need to be seized. Linking the two would cost about $300,000, with an annual cost of $45,000 to maintain the database, Simmons said.

The recently adopted Firearm Safety Act of 2013 will require fingerprints for new handgun owners, leaving about 400,000 un-fingerprinted in the MAFSS system, according to the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which administers the databases.

“What happens if someone bought a gun five years ago or 10 years ago ... then commits assault or domestic violence?” Simmons said.

Raquel Guillory, spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), said the administration supports linking the two databases, but it would require legislation to do so.

Simmons has started a petition at www.change.org to generate support for the change.

dleaderman@gazette.net