Maryland Is First State to Require Handgun Trigger Locks

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Maryland has become the first state to require built-in safety locks on new handguns, after the state House Monday passed something called the Responsibility Gun Safety Act of 2000. The Senate already has passed the legislation and the governor is eager to sign it.

Starting October 1, external trigger locks must be installed on all newly sold handguns. Built-in trigger locks - the kind that stymied the Maryland governor during a recent demonstration - must be part of all new handguns sold in the state in 2003 and beyond.

The legislation also prohibits violent juvenile offenders from owning a handgun until the age of 30, and it requires gun makers to provide ballistic "fingerprints" of shell casings on new weapons.

Passage of the bill is a major victory for Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat said by some to be currying favor with Vice President Al Gore in hopes of winning a job in a Gore administration.

In fact, Gore called Gov. Glendening last week to thank him for advancing the cause of gun safety, and President Clinton called Glendening to congratulate him after Monday's vote.

Glendening told a news conference, "Today we set a new agenda for gun safety, not only for Maryland but for the entire nation. We are raising the bar against gun violence.

"I predict that within 18 months, one-half dozen to one dozen states will move forward on legislation similar to ours. I predict that it will be almost impossible for gun makers to manufacture guns without internal safety locks. The liability simply will be too great," Glendening said.

"People are so frustrated because there's been so much killing and (gun) violence. Now there's an answer."

Glendening is in line to take over chairmanship of the National Governors Association in July.

Just before the vote was taken, opponents of the gun bill weighed in against it.

"This bill, in my opinion, contains the worst kind of tyranny a government can foist on its citizens...because it is false hope," said Republican House Delegate Anthony O'Donnell. "None of this stuff works, and you all know it!"

The gun-control issue is gaining momentum in this election year. Last month, Smith & Wesson, the largest manufacturer of handguns, agreed to adopt marketing and manufacturing reforms to avoid the threat of a federal lawsuit.

And later this month, a "Million Mom March" in support of gun control is planned to take place in Washington. A pro-gun-rights group called the Second Amendment Sisters also will march on Mother's Day in Washington. (See Earlier Story)