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Obama rules met with shrugs at Timonium Gun Show

President Barack Obama wipes tears Jan. 5 while speaking at the White House about steps his administration is taking to reduce gun violence.
President Barack Obama wipes tears Jan. 5 while speaking at the White House about steps his administration is taking to reduce gun violence. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

Crowds perused tables of long guns, handguns, boxes of ammo, and accessories from sights to nylon cases in camouflage prints and pink trim Saturday at the Timonium Gun Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

Whether they shopped for guns for protection, or just enjoyed the thrill of firing a few rounds at the range, few seemed fazed by President Barack Obama's recent executive actions on gun control. Maryland already has some of the toughest restrictions on gun sales in the nation.

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Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to administer background checks. The president's actions this month expand the number of sellers — including those at gun shows — who will fall under this requirement.

Maryland is one of 18 states that already mandate background checks for handgun sales at gun shows.

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Obama didn't require the tougher background checks he pushed Congress to approve after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

On Saturday, several people hunched over folding tables and filled out forms to make purchases.

Darnell Somers, 45, said he was looking for a handgun to use for protection. The Catonsville man said he has waited for more than a month for state police to complete a background check on a previous purchase.

"We were already messed up pre-Obama," he said.

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Somers said he supported closing loopholes at gun shows.

"You should go through the challenge of being checked out," he said. He likened gun ownership to car ownership: Drivers have to go through a process to get a license.

But he said clearances should be much quicker. Instead of requiring more of lawful gun owners, Somers said, penalties against criminals caught with illegal guns and other gun-related crimes should be stricter.

Joe Wienecke, 48, said that he's not opposed to background checks and that certain individuals with mental health problems or criminal backgrounds should be barred from purchasing guns. The Essex man said he owns guns for protection, but he also enjoys recreational shooting. He was looking for new gun sights Saturday.

Wienecke said the process shouldn't be made more difficult for responsible gun owners. He said that the stricter the rules are made, the more his rights are being eroded.

"You give up those rights, you never get them back," he said.

Randy Catucci, 49, said background checks are necessary but said any expanded restrictions go too far.

"It doesn't work," the Bowie man said. Maryland has toughened its laws, he said, but guns still fall into the wrong hands.

Supporters of Obama's executive actions say that increasing enforcement of current federal laws will decrease the number of people buying guns in other states and bringing them into Maryland.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported recently that about 43 percent of guns used in crimes in 2014 in Maryland were originally bought in other states.

Catucci said he has owned a handgun since the 1980s, but he said he still had to go through the lengthy process when he wanted to purchase another.

"I'm all for background checks," he said. "But it shouldn't be so hard for the good guy to get a weapon."

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