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Maryland lawmakers consider a voluntary 'do not sell' list for guns

Maryland State Seal in Annapolis, Maryland.
Matt Bush
Maryland State Seal in Annapolis, Maryland.

Editor's Note: This story discusses the topic of suicide. If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis or in need of mental health help , you can call 9-8-8, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Maryland lawmakers are looking at a bill that would create a voluntary Do Not Sell Firearm list, which supporters call an important tool in suicide prevention. Only three other states have one.

Nationally, the measure is known as Donna’s Law after a woman who died by suicide in New Orleans in 2018. A person could enroll themselves on the list, which is entirely voluntary, to prevent them from being sold a firearm. Baltimore County Democratic Sen. Shelly Hettleman is sponsoring the bill creating Maryland’s list.

“We know there are people with mental illness, and in times when they are down, want to inflict self harm,” Hettleman told the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee during a hearing Feb. 7. “And any time we can create space between that period of time, and access to a firearm, is a good thing.”

Three other states — Utah, Washington, and neighboring Virginia — have a voluntary do not sell firearm list. Virginia’s took effect in 2021. A bill to create a national list was introduced in 2022 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A person could take themselves off the list under the Maryland plan, though it would take three weeks to be removed after the request.

Hettleman likened the list to a similar voluntary one in Maryland that people can enroll on to be prevented from entering casinos or receiving winnings from lottery tickets due to gambling addiction.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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