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Police alert gun shop owners to law that protects children


City police are notifying gun shop owners and sales outlets in Baltimore to comply with a recently enacted city ordinance aimed at protecting children from firearm injuries.

Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman, said letters have been mailed the nine gun-shop operators and other sales outlets in the city advising them of the change in law.

Some parts of the ordinance, which requires all firearm owners to keep their weapons secure from children, apply directly to shop owners, Mr. Hill said.

The spokesman said the law requires that the shop owners offer to sell or give the firearm purchaser a trigger lock or similar device to prevent the firearm from discharging accidentally. The shop owners are also required to post a sign, in letters not less than 1 inch in height, that say: "It is unlawful to leave a loaded firearm, or an unloaded firearm in close proximity to ammunition, where a minor can obtain access to the firearm."

Violators can be charged with a misdemeanor that could result in a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for one year, or both, police said.

The law was enacted after several young children in the city were shot with weapons left lying around their houses or elsewhere.

Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods notes in the letter that compliance will help in "protecting the city's most valuable resource -- our children ."

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