Letter: Convicted domestic violence abusers should turn in guns

Maryland law bars convicted batterers, a person who inflicts violent physical abuse upon a child, spouse, or other person, from buying firearms. Under Maryland law domestic abusers are prohibited from having guns if they are subject to a final protective order or are convicted of a "domestically related" crime. These prohibited abusers will fail a background check if they try to buy a gun.

Yet disturbingly, the law does not require that convicted domestic abusers turn in the guns they already own. Meaning that a convicted abuser can go directly home from court, and use the guns he has at home to harm a intimate partner.


A November 2015 study by Court Watch Montgomery tracked the case of 126 offenders prohibited due to a domestic violence conviction a 1-year period in Montgomery County. The group found that in only one single case among those offenses was the convicted abuser even informed that he could not possess guns due to his conviction.

Many states, including Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, have state laws requiring convicted domestic abusers turn in their guns.

Maryland's legislature has a opportunity to close this dangerous gap in the law, requiring all convicted abusers who are prohibited must turn in their guns immediately -before they do any further harm.

Our Carroll County State Senators and one Delegate sit on the Judiciary Committees hearing testimony this week and next on legislation to make right and close this fracture in law. Under consideration are Senate Bill 727 and House Bill 1424.

The law should allow convicted abusers to choose whether to turn in guns to law enforcement or to a gun dealer after the conviction.

Please consider calling Senators Ready and Hough, and Delegate Kittleman to support a law requiring that every time a person is convicted of a disqualifying domestic violence crime, any guns he/she owns must be turned in.

Guns are the weapons of choice for those who kill an intimate partner, and domestic violence assaults with firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than assaults without them.

Lou Wolf