Maryland is the single largest source of guns used to commit crimes in the District of Columbia, a federal firearms official said yesterday.
In addition, 40 percent of the guns used to commit crimes in Baltimore were bought in Maryland, said Margaret A. Moore, head of the Baltimore office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"Formerly, Virginia was the largest source state for crimes in D.C. Now, Maryland is No. 1 and Virginia is No. 2," Ms. Moore said.
She speculated that one reason for the change in the source of guns for criminals in the District of Columbia, which does not allow the sale of firearms, might be a new Virginia statute that limits purchasers to buying one handgun per month.
Maryland law requires a minimum seven-day waiting period before firearms can be purchased but does not limit the number of guns a purchaser can buy.
Ms. Moore spoke at a news conference, then in a telephone interview, after a meeting of federal, local and state crime officials in the office of Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to discuss violent crime
She said she could not immediately provide figures on how many guns from Maryland and Virginia were used to commit crimes in Washington but that the two states accounted for 70 percent of the "crime guns" recovered in the district.
Ms. Moore, who noted that many of the guns are bought at gun shops by friends of those who commit crimes, said the figures show "we have to direct our resources in Maryland."
In August, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the governors of Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia agreed that their states would pool information on gun licensing and jointly investigate sales of illegal firearms.
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who participated in yesterday's meeting, said the figures show that tougher restrictions on gun sales in Maryland "could make a difference."
"We're at the faucet. We can turn it on or turn it off," he said.
Patrick Loughlin, manager of the Valley Gun Shop in Parkville, said most of the guns used in crimes had been stolen or were illegally smuggled into Maryland from other states, often with drug shipments. "If we want to do something about crime, let's put the criminals in jail or kill the really bad ones," he said.
Mr. Schmoke said yesterday's meeting at his office was part of a continuing effort to "build teamwork" and show the public that federal, local and state officials are "going to work as a team."
Also at the meeting were city State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms; Bishop L. Robinson, the state's secretary of public safety and correctional services; and U.S. Attorney Lynne Battaglia.
During the first eight months of the year, there were 14,321 incidents of violent crime in Baltimore, 35 more than in 1992, according to police statistics.