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Senate Votes to Override Hogan Veto of Bill to Expand Background Checks for Long Guns

Maryland Matters

The Senate voted on Tuesday to override Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s veto of a bill to require background checks for person-to-person sales, rentals or transfers of shotguns and rifles.

Iterations of the 2020 bill, sponsored by Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery), have cycled through the General Assembly since 2016.

Lee said that the bill will prevent people with violent tendencies from accessing guns from private sellers online or at gun shows.

Senate Minority Whip Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) argued that most gun violence is related to illegal use and sale of handguns, and that the bill would only “punish” law-abiding sportsmen, farmers and hunters who often enter into the secondary transactions ― like private sales and loans ― that will now require background checks by federally licensed dealers.

Sen. Pamela G. Beidle (D-Anne Arundel) rose in support of overturning Hogan’s veto, saying that she was doing so in honor of the five Capital Gazette newspaper staff members ― journalists Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen and John McNamara and advertising assistant Rebecca Smith ― who were slain by a man wielding a shotgun in 2018.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Chairman William C. Smith Jr (D-Montgomery) said that this bill simply seeks to reach parity between the regulation of handguns and long guns by requiring that sales or transfers be handled through licensed arms dealers who are to perform background checks on both parties.

Smith continued that this will not affect anyone’s ability to temporarily loan their shotguns or transfer them through wills upon their death.

“This is not something that is a far-out farcical measure,” said Smith. “This is something simple [and] commonplace to protect Marylanders.”

The Judicial Proceedings chairman added that he agrees with Hough’s call to reduce gun violence in the state, but that it may be a job too large for the General Assembly.

“Unfortunately, we have porous borders and that begs for a federal solution,” Smith explained. “So if the senator wants to work on Capitol Hill for a federal solution, I’m all for it.” (Hough works in D.C. as chief of staff for former state senator and Republican Rep. Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia.)

The veto was overridden by a vote of 31-16. The House of Delegates is scheduled to consider a veto override vote for the House bill on background checks Thursday.

The Senate also voted Tuesday to override Hogan’s vetoes on legislation to keep the arrest records of juvenile offenders facing adult charges confidential until their case is moved to adult court by a judge and a bill that would create the state’s only women’s pre-release unit.