Md. needs tighter gun laws

This letter is in response to your editorial "Awash in illicit guns" (Oct. 6). Everyone agrees that illegal firearms are a problem. However, to blame other states and give a free pass to the Maryland General Assembly is ridiculous.

There are two common sense gun laws the Maryland General Assembly could pass to punish those that possess illegal weapons.

Number One: Enact a "shall issue" concealed carry law that allows lawful citizens to carry a handgun without the need to show good cause to the Maryland State Police. Under the current law, I cannot carry a handgun to protect myself from the stronger male thugs that prey on older female folks like me. In exchange for the "shall issue" permit, the penalty for wear, carrying or transporting a handgun should be increased from the current misdemeanor, three-year maximum penalty to a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a maximum sentence of five years. Lawful citizens get to protect themselves, and people who carry handguns illegally face a stiffer penalty than is currently on the books.

Number Two: Change the penalties for being a prohibited person in possession of a handgun. Prohibited persons, like repeat violent offenders, commit most of the violent crime and are people who can never legally possess handguns. Currently a drug felon in possession of a handgun faces the minimum and maximum sentence of five years without parole. Thus, there is no incentive to plead guilty.

A common sense sentence for this type of person who has a handgun should be a minimum sentence of five years without parole and a maximum sentence of 20 years. A maximum sentence of 20 years is not as draconian as it sounds. Twenty years is also the maximum sentence for felony cocaine and heroin charges.

Before The Baltimore Sun writes "there's not much Maryland legislators can do about lax gun laws in other states," please ask the General Assembly what has been done about the lax gun laws in Maryland.

Shelva Biby, Baltimore

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