Getting illegal guns off the streets has been a priority for Baltimore police, and the success of that effort is reflected in significantly lower homicide rates, says the Baltimore Sun in an editorial. The problem is that neighboring states allow virtually anyone who has the money to buy a gun, with no questions asked. The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns says that nearly half the guns used at crime scenes came from just 10 states. The fact that criminals here have little difficulty getting their hands on firearms, especially at gun shows in nearby Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, has helped make Maryland the nation’s ninth-highest importer of firearms used in the commission of crimes; last year, 42 percent of the guns traced to Maryland crime scenes came from out of state.
Without sensible federal restrictions that apply across the board, many state gun laws are virtually meaningless, the Sun says. This being an election year, Congress hasn’t expressed much appetite for writing legislation that might draw down the ire of the National Rifle Association on members running for House and Senate seats. The NRA agrees that criminals and the mentally ill should not be allowed to purchase guns, and although the advocacy group claims the gun show loophole is a “fable,” it makes no sense that any exception to that rule would be permitted. Private sellers at gun shows can sell guns without performing a background check to determine whether potential customers have a criminal record or have been treated for a mental illness. The Sun says the gun show loophole “serves no legitimate interest and needlessly endangers communities and law-abiding citizens.” The newspaper calls on Congress to “summon the courage to begin reducing the flood of illegal weapons into states like Maryland that have tough gun laws on the books but still find themselves at the mercy of neighboring states where lax regulation allows criminals to buy all the weapons they want with impunity.”