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Rifle purchase merits a background check, too

A moment of silence is offered by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh at Arundel Center for the five Capital Gazette staffers killed. (Jay Reed, Baltimore Sun video)

This past week, the Maryland House of Delegates approved legislation requiring all rifle and shotgun purchases to go through the same criminal background checks required for handguns (“Maryland House of Delegates OKs bills requiring long gun background checks, banning 3D-printed guns,” March 19). Due to a current loophole in the law, someone legally prohibited from having a gun — including convicted felons and domestic abusers — can get around a background check by finding an unlicensed seller selling a rifle or shotgun online or at a gun show.

Why should a handgun be subject to a criminal background check but not a rifle or a shotgun? They are just as deadly. Last year’s shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper was a tragic reminder of that. To avoid placing undue burdens on gun owners, the bill contains commonsense exceptions such as transfers of rifles or shotguns between immediate family members, of antique and inoperable rifles and shotguns, transfers involving law enforcement officers, rifles or shotguns left in a will, and transfers necessary to prevent an imminent threat of death or serious injury.

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Also exempt are temporary rifle and shotgun transfers at sport shooting ranges or gun clubs, during shooting competitions, performances or practices, and transfers while hunting or trapping or in other circumstances as long as the person receiving the rifle or shotgun remains in the presence of the gun owner. Like most Americans, responsible gun owners support criminal background checks on all gun purchases. We call upon the Senate to take action on this legislation before the General Assembly session ends April 8.

Danielle Veith, Takoma Park

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