Gun Safety

Jaelynn's Law to Keep Guns Out of Kids' Hands Could Stall in Maryland

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Maryland lawmakers are pushing for a vote on gun safety legislation named for a teen killed in a school shooting, but there's concern that bill could stall during this year's General Assembly.

Jaelynn Willey, 16, was shot and killed attending school in St. Mary’s County in 2018. Police say the shooter, a 17-year-old fellow student, used his father’s gun.

Lawmakers in Maryland are pushing for a safe storage law to prevent more kids from easily getting ahold of guns.

Jaelynn’s Law has the support of Jaelynn's mom.

“It could potentially save another family from having to deal with this, really,” Melissa Willey said.

But Jaelynn’s Law is still in the House Judiciary Committee, where a vote hasn’t been scheduled and time is running out.

“I think it’s important,” Willey said. “I’m frustrated it hasn’t passed yet.”

Advocates say Jaelynn’s Law would require guns be safely stored, locked and unloaded, and not accessible to unsupervised children under the age of 18. Current law only applies to children up to the age of 15 and doesn’t require that guns be unloaded.

Jaelynn’s Law would also strengthen the penalty for those who break the law from a fine to jail time.

“I’m really surprised that despite sort of this moment we are in time with youth suicide and just how many firearms are now in homes that it hasn’t moved at all,” said Karen Herren of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

Willey testified in support of the bill in February.

Critics of the bill testified it infringes on gun ownership rights and could lead to prosecuting parents.

“I’d hate to see a tragedy,” Del. Dan Cox said. “You know how this can really rip a family apart, God forbid it ever happens, and I’d hate to have this misused, obviously, against a grieving family.”

Willey says she’ll keep fighting for the law until it passes.

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