Maryland’s strict gun laws could not prevent Capital Gazette shooting, spurring talk of changes

Capital Gazette shooting victims mourned at Friday night vigil Although Maryland has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, none could have prevented the massacre of five people in The Capital newsroom Thursday, policymakers said. The weapon used in the attack has been described by police as a pump-action shotgun. While “long guns” like shotguns and rifles are less tightly regulated than handguns, a purchaser nonetheless must undergo a criminal background check to buy one from a dealer, as Jarrod W. Ramos did. But Ramos was never convicted of a crime serious enough to bar such a purchase. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to harassing a woman he had known in high school, but harassment isn’t among the misdemeanors that prohibit gun ownership under state or federal law. Maryland has a new law , which becomes effective in October, that will allow judges to seize guns from a person deemed a danger to themselves or others. But the group of people who can petition for such an order is narrow — it includes only spouses, dating partners and close relatives. So even had the law been in effect and had there been a threat, neither Capital staff nor the woman he once harassed would have been able to file a “red flag” petition about the alleged shooter, experts said. The Capital shooting has already caused some lawmakers to begin talking about ways to tighten gun laws as others discuss how best to strengthen mental health services […]

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