Opinion: Maryland just closed a gun loophole. The state is safer for it.

The Maryland State House. GIVEN AMERICA’S lurid history of gun violence, it is confounding that buyers can purchase firearms in some places without background checks. It’s even more astonishing that it remains the case in a liberal stronghold such as Maryland, which suffered its own recent trauma owing to a deranged gunman bent on mass murder. Lawmakers in Annapolis last week finally closed a loophole in state law that waived background checks for buyers who make private purchases of shotguns and rifles. Sales of handguns as well shotguns and rifles from licensed dealers in Maryland have long been subject to mandatory checks through a federal database, but long guns were exempted when the transaction took place through private dealers, including those at gun shows. The Democratic-controlled legislature pushed through the change this month by overriding a gratuitous veto cast last year by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who made no public argument to defend the loophole beyond the fact that he had not proposed closing it. The change takes effect next month. Gun rights advocates and their Republican allies in the legislature characterized the legislation as an assault on rural Maryland’s way of life and a burden for hunters. In fact, whatever (probably slight) inconvenience some sportsmen might undergo because of the new law is outweighed by the obstacle it may pose for buyers who have no business owning firearms. It does not take a feat of imagination to foresee an act of gun violence carried out by someone […]

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