The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Solving the gun issue is harder than it seems

Zena Phillip, right, and Blain Sirak at the June 11 “March for Our Lives” gun control rally in D.C. (Ted Hesson/Reuters)

In their June 26 Local Opinions essay, “Md. must urgently address our gun crisis,” Matt Post, Brenna Levitan, Michael Solomon and Nate Tinbite proposed what they alleged to be urgent new safeguards regarding firearms in Maryland. The young authors might be well-intentioned, but they are misguided, discounting history and logic.

Maryland is one of the most firearm-restrictive states in the country. Person-to-person sales of firearms are restricted. Buying “regulated” arms, including handguns, requires a qualifying license, national background check, fingerprinting and completion of a formal training course (total fees are nearly $300). Magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds. The writers advocated firearm microstamping, which is simply a newer version of a statute enacted in 2000 mandating that manufacturers supply a fired casing from every new handgun sold in the state to authorities for ballistic fingerprinting. The state police accumulated 300,000 casings at a cost of $5 million. The system never solved a single case, and the law was repealed in 2015.

The writers said gun manufacturers should be taxed for each death from misuse of their product but did not consider the slippery slope for death from misuse of other products such as motor vehicles, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, etc. The writers advocated “massively increasing” funding of unspecified violence-intervention programs despite the lack of objective evidence of efficacy.

The essay cited the Magruder High School student accused of using a “ghost gun” to shoot a 15-year-old classmate but didn’t ask what would lead a teenager to decide that the appropriate response to a disagreement was to shoot an adversary. That is the most critical and stubborn question at hand.

Thomas Holohan, Rockville