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Maryland Senate President: Tougher penalties can't be all that's done to stop gun violence

Matt Bush/WYPR

Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates made tougher penalties for illegal gun ownership a centerpiece of his successful election campaign last year. But Bates needs the General Assembly to act for his campaign promises on tougher penalties to come true.

Fellow Democrats in recent years have been reluctant to pass stiffer penalties. Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson told reporters Friday in Annapolis he does expect something about tougher penalties to pass this session. But he added it can’t be the only thing lawmakers do to combat gun violence in the state.

“If we’re only solving this problem with penalties, I think we will have failed,” Ferguson said. “Because it means somebody will have been hurt. It means there are more illegal guns in the commerce stream, and it means there are more arrests for illegal guns in the community.”

Last week the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held hearings on a variety of bills that dealt with guns. They included allowing Maryland State Police to track all guns surrendered through final protective orders and banning most sales of rifles and shotguns to anyone under 21 years old.

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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