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Reception for Hogan’s gun bill lackluster in Senate

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Gov. Larry Hogan’s highly touted bill to get tough on offenders with firearms came before a Senate committee Wednesday. But even his endorsement wasn’t enough to generate much enthusiasm during a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes.

Erin Chase, the governor’s deputy legislative officer, said the bill would address violent crime, which skyrocketed in 2021.

“This legislation will help us address the violent crime crisis that is terrorizing our communities by ensuring that these violent criminals are off of our streets,” Chase said.

The bill would impose harsher punishments for repeat firearm offenders in addition to those who distribute firearms to criminals.

It would increase the maximum penalty for individuals who illegally possess guns on a repeated basis, it would classify firearm theft, possession of a stolen firearm, and the sale of a stolen firearm as felony offenses, and it would increase the maximum penalty for individuals who knowingly provide a firearm to someone who has a previous violent crime conviction or plans to use the gun to commit a crime.

Other than Hogan’s staffer, only Stacy McDonald, of Annapolis, showed up to support the bill.

“This bill not only strengthens law enforcement and forces those who are in charge to rid our society of the small criminal class who has wreaked havoc and spread violence for years,” McDonald said.

Previous versions of the bill have been introduced in two prior legislative sessions. One passed the Senate, but failed in the House of Delegates.

An emergency measure, the bill would take effect immediately if it passes.