The Maryland Senate voted Tuesday to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a measure requiring background checks on rifle and shotgun sales in the state.
The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, voted 31-16 to override the Republican governor's veto.
Under current Maryland law, private sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check.
Supporters of the legislation say the measure closes a loophole that makes it too easy for those who are legally prohibited from having guns to obtain rifles and shotguns from unlicensed sellers through sales arranged online or at guns shows.
“This bill will prevent those violent individuals from getting these guns to commit things like murder, mayhem serious injury, crimes against law-abiding citizens,” said Sen. Susan Lee, a Montgomery County Democrat.
Opponents contend the measure fails to address handguns or repeat violent offenders. They say it only makes it harder for law-abiding residents who just want to transfer a hunting rifle to a friend or family member.
“Unfortunately with gun laws, we constantly go after, we punish and we regulate, law-abiding citizens, people who are sportsmen, people who are hunters, people who are using them the right way, and that’s what this legislation seeks to do,” said Sen. Michael Hough, a Republican who represents parts of Frederick and Carroll counties.
Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat, said lawmakers have worked on the measure to take a balanced approach that still allows some exchanges without a background check.
“If you want to lend it to your neighbor, you don’t have to go through a background check," Smith said. "If you want to will your firearm, your long gun, to your neighbor, to your family member: no background check required.”
The House would still need to override the veto for the measure to become law. The legislation passed the House last year with more than the three-fifths majority needed to override.
A handgun purchase in Maryland requires a background check.