U.S. Senate Democrats want states to license handgun purchasers and lawmakers have introduced a bill that would encourage states to do so by providing federal grants.
Efforts to reduce gun violence continues from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“Just like you need a license to drive a car you should get a license to purchase a handgun,” Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
Van Hollen introduced the Handgun Licensing Purchaser Act that would motivate states through federal grants to require individuals to obtain a license before buying a handgun, something Maryland currently does.
“We’ve seen in states that have implemented this, like Connecticut over a long period of time that you do see a significant drop in violent crimes with handguns.”
According to the National Rifle Association, Maryland requires anyone who wants a handgun to get a qualification licensed 30 days before applying to purchase the gun. The license costs up to $20.
“We have appropriate protections to make sure law-abiding citizens can go out and get a gun under their Second Amendment rights. We also make it very difficult for people who have criminal backgrounds or mental health issues that make them a danger to themselves or the community to go out and get a gun.”
In 2016, there were 11,000 gun homicides. Ninety percent of those were with a handgun.
“The data has shown that these permits to purchase acts in states have gone a long way in preventing gun violence,” Andrew Patrick, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said.
Patrick says if more states adopt this process it could aid in saving lives.
“It forces an individual to undergo a background check, which the majority of Americans support, prior to purchasing a weapon, get fingerprinted, go through the entire process, and it’s proved successful in many states.”
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is unclear if it will ever make it out of committee and up for a vote.