ANNAPOLIS — A proposal to require fingerprints from people who buy handguns in Maryland prompted considerable discussion in the state Senate on Tuesday, as lawmakers began a debate expected to last most of the week on a comprehensive gun-control measure.
Senators spent more than two hours simply asking questions about details and the licensing provision for handguns stirred lively debate.
Supporters contend requiring handgun owners to submit fingerprints to the state police will help stop people from buying weapons for those who are prohibited from owning them.
“The reason licensing is important because it deters people from straw purchasing,” Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, said, referring to the practice of people buying guns by proxy.
But opponents question whether that’s as big of a problem as supporters say. Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, cited a paucity of convictions in state and federal courts for straw purchases as evidence the problem is not rampant.
“At the federal and the state level, licensing is a solution for a problem that really doesn’t exist, and it imposes a significant burden on law-abiding citizens who are actually using the guns,” Pipkin said.
Frosh, however, said 500 guns from one Maryland gun shop turned up in various crimes that were not committed by the people who bought them. He also said Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have fingerprinting requirements for handgun ownership.
“In those states, they have a fingerprinting requirement in order to purchase, and we know they have lower rates of gun crimes than we do and that other states do that don’t have it,” Frosh said.