Officials from Maryland and Washington, D.C. are announcing initiatives today aimed at cracking down on gun trafficking, tightening laws that govern firearms use, and improving information-sharing among law enforcement agencies, says the Washington Post. The effort will focus on stepping up inspections at firearms shops, increasing the number of sting operations at gun shows, and ensuring that people on parole or probation sign notices acknowledging that they are prohibited from owning firearms.
Law enforcement authorities in Maryland have struggled to reduce the number of gun sales involving “straw purchasers,” people who buy firearms on behalf of felons and others who are legally barred from doing so. In 2006, 135 guns used in crimes in Prince George’s County, Md., adjoining Washington, were traced to one dealer. That was more than three times as many guns as could be traced to any other dealer. In Washington, 204 guns were traced to the dealer last year, four times as many as were linked to the next biggest dealer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that firearm deaths in Maryland rose from 592 in 2001 to 644 in 2004. After declining earlier in the decade, the number of firearms sold in Maryland has increased in recent years, from 23,663 in 2004 to more than 28,287 in 2006.