House and Senate Committees Hear Gun Theft Felony Act

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Common sense measures proposed by Republicans to make the theft of a firearm a felony in Maryland had hearings in the House and Senate this week. House Bill 304 and Senate Bill 39 – Gun Theft Felony Act were heard in the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Under current law, the theft of a firearm falls under the general theft statute in which penalties are imposed based on the value of the item stolen, not the nature of the item itself. Theft of items valued at less than $1,500 is a misdemeanor. According to a 2023 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, nationwide, more than 1.07 million firearms were reported stolen between 2017 and 2021, 96% being stolen from private individuals.

“In public safety debates in Annapolis we hear over and over again the term ‘gun violence.’ The majority of these crimes are committed with illegally obtained guns. Making the theft of a gun a felony with real jail time creates a critical deterrent for the leading source of illegal guns – theft,” said Senate Minority Leader Justin Ready. “Firearms are not the same as other stolen objects. We must recognize the potential harm inflicted by bad actors with stolen guns.”

Making the theft of a firearm a felony is an issue that has bipartisan support across the state. According to a Gonzales poll in June of 2023, 89% of all Marylanders support making gun theft a felony. Republicans have been supporting this measure since 2018.

“Making the theft of a firearm a felony makes sense and is something the majority of Marylanders agree with,” said Delegate Rachel Munoz, the lead sponsor of the bill in the House of Delegates. “The only place in our state where this measure is controversial is in the General Assembly itself. This bill is an important measure in keeping stolen guns off of our streets and keeping our communities safe and it should have passed years ago. Our citizens want this bill, and the General Assembly needs to get this done this year.”