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Congress' refusal to curb gun sales is a national disgrace

Maryland has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the country, and I'm proud to have helped enact lifesaving reforms during my time in Annapolis.

But until more states implement the commonsense reforms Maryland has adopted, guns purchased outside of Maryland will continue to add to the daily toll of gun violence that is tormenting our communities.

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As The Sun recently noted, 44 percent of guns recovered from crimes in Maryland were traced back to other states, often with more lenient gun laws ("Obama and guns," Jan. 4).

Groundbreaking research coming out of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research quantifies just how many lives can be saved by permit-to-purchase laws like the one enacted in Maryland two years ago.

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That's why I've introduced legislation to promote the expansion of these programs nationally, the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act. It will create a Department of Justice grant program to incentivize states to enact permit-to-purchase laws, making every community safer by stemming the flow of guns into Maryland that could fall into dangerous hands.

Republicans in Congress beholden to the gun lobby and the NRA have prevented us from even voting on commonsense gun safety measures, including my bill. Yet the death toll is rising every day, and lawmakers' inaction is a national disgrace.

We have effective, lifesaving strategies at hand, and our communities and the law enforcement officers charged with keeping them safe are at greater risk with each passing day that Congress sits on its hands.

Chris Van Hollen

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The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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