Maryland Democrats Target Gun Makers While Republicans Go After Gun Thieves

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

While Democrats in Annapolis are pushing legislation that would make it easier to sue gunmakers and sellers for the criminal misuse of firearms, the Republican minority is taking a very different approach to curbing violent crime; going after the lawbreakers who are fueling the violence. HB 304 and SB 39 would change state law to make the theft of a firearm a felony in all circumstances, unlike the current statute that bases the level of offense on the value of the item that was stolen. In order to qualify as a felony-level offense, any stolen firearm must be worth more than $1,500, or else prosecutors have no choice but to charge suspects with a misdemeanor offense that’s likely to result in little-to-no jail time.


Both the House and Senate bills received hearings this week, though the committees considering the bills have yet to take a vote. Republicans call the proposals an important step towards improving public safety in the state, while Democrats aren’t saying much at all about the idea.

“In public safety debates in Annapolis we hear over and over again the term ‘gun violence,’” Senate Minority Leader Justin Ready said in a news release. “The majority of these crimes are committed with illegally obtained guns. Making the theft of a gun a felony with real jail time creates a critical deterrent for the leading source of illegal guns – theft. Firearms are not the same as other stolen objects. We must recognize the potential harm inflicted by bad actors with stolen guns.”

According to a Gonzales Poll in June 2023, 89% of all Marylanders support making gun theft a felony.

“Making the theft of a firearm a felony makes sense and is something the majority of Marylanders agree with,” Delegate Rachel Munoz said in a news release. “The only place in our state where this measure is controversial is in the General Assembly itself. This bill is an important measure in keeping stolen guns off of our streets and keeping our communities safe and it should have passed years ago. Our citizens want this bill, and the General Assembly needs to get this done this year.”


No matter how common sense this legislation might be, it looks like it’s going to be a challenge to get Democrats to support it. As of today neither SB 39 nor HB 304 have managed to attract a single Democrat to sign on as a co-sponsor. Given the Democratic majorities in both chambers the bills are dead in the water without bipartisan support, but Democrats have a very different agenda this session; once again blaming lawful gun owners and the firearms industry for the acts of violent offenders.

In addition to the deceptively named Gun Industry Accountability Act (which would be called the Scapegoating the Firearms Industry Act if we had truth-in-labeling laws that applied to legislation), Democrats in Annapolis are getting behind a bill that would jack up the price of firearms and ammunition by 11 percent, with the money taken from lawful gun owners going into the Maryland Trauma Physician Services Fund, which helps to fund emergency medical care for those who can’t afford it.

While the fund gets most of its money at the moment through a $5 motor vehicle registration fee, Democrats are trying to now single out gun owners as a new source of revenue for the fund

“Gun violence is a public health crisis,” said [Del. Bernice D.] Mireku-North, whose father was shot in his car in the District three years ago. “It’s far too commonplace, which is why we are working together to find comprehensive and common-sense solutions.”

The average trauma patient goes home with a $30,000 hospital bill, Elfreth saidwhile detailing the proposed Comprehensive Community Safety Funding Act at a news conference Wednesday. When a patient does not have insurance or other resources to cover those expenses, the state’s Trauma Physician Services Fund steps in to reimburse hospitals for the lifesaving care they provide. But the fund has not been meaningfully expanded in more than 10 years, Elfreth said, even as the price of providing trauma care has risen with the cost of supplies and labor.


I’d say this isn’t going to meaningfully expand the funding at all, since many gun owners will simply choose to travel the short distance to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, or Delaware to purchase their firearms and ammunition. It’s also deeply ironic that Maryland Democrats are depending on gun owners to provide a steady source of revenue for the fund at the same time they’re doing everything possible to reduce the number of lawful gun owners in the state. I guess the idea is that if they can’t ban gun ownership altogether, they can at least treat gun owners as cash cows to be milked.

If Maryland lawmakers want to put more money in the Trauma Physician Services Fund, it should come from all taxpayers and not just those exercising their Second Amendment rights. Instead, it looks like Democrats will cut gun thieves a break, while putting the screws to the lawful gun owners who might one day be victimized by the criminals the left refuses to take seriously.


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