ANNAPOLIS — In tear-filled testimony, the mother of a Germantown woman killed by a replica handgun pleaded with a Senate committee on Wednesday to keep convicted felons from owning antique firearms in the same way they’re prohibited from owning other guns.
“She was my beloved one,” Cassandra Atkens said, holding up a framed photo of her daughter, 24-year-old Mariam “Shadé” Adebayo.
Adebayo was killed in a Target parking lot in Germantown in 2015 by her ex-boyfriend, Donald Bricker Jr., who came to their final meeting armed with a replica of an 1851 pistol.
Bricker ordered the pistol online, even though his criminal record would have blocked him from buying a traditional firearm, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
Despite Maryland’s tough gun laws, in this case, Bricker bought the gun online and didn’t have to register it because antique firearms aren’t considered regulated firearms under state or federal law. Bricker purchased ammunition separately and, on the day the gun arrived, killed Adebayo, McCarthy said.
He and Atkens were among those advocating Wednesday for a bill from Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, that would change the state law to regulate the antique and replica weapons.
“It’s as deadly as any other gun,” McCarthy said.
But others, including Shannon Alford, Maryland state liaison for the National Rifle Association, oppose changing the law, noting that replica weapons are difficult to operate and load and rarely are used in crimes.
The bill is one of dozens under consideration by lawmakers in the General Assembly this session. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard several of the bills on Wednesday.
Some would expand Maryland’s gun laws:
- Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Harford, the minority leader, is sponsoring a bill that says people are justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against an intruder into their home if they fear any further criminal act.
- Sens. Wayne Norman, R-Harford, and Johnny Ray Salling, R-Baltimore County, introduced bills that would add personal protection or self-defense as a reason for obtaining a handgun permit in the state.
Norman pointed to the number of homicides in the city of Baltimore as a reason to expand access to permits. “I would suggest that’s a reason to have a permit,” he said.
But Jen Pauliukonis, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said lowering the state’s standard to “self-defense” would essentially turn Maryland into a “shall issue” state, she said.
Based on the number of new permit applications in Wisconsin after gun laws were expanded there, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimated that 100,000 new permit applications would be filed if the bill from Salling and Norman passes.
Several pending bills would restrict gun laws.
Two women from Frederick’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America came to Annapolis on Wednesday to testify in favor of two of them from Sen. William C. Smith Jr., D-Montgomery.
The Rev. Katie Penick, who lives in Frederick and is interim pastor at Zion United Church of Christ in Baltimore, spoke as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, in support of a bill that would require domestic abusers and others convicted of crimes that prohibit them from possessing firearms to turn in their guns to authorities. Although current law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from buying guns, it does not require them to turn in the guns they already own.
“This bill closes dangerous loopholes that domestic abusers can slip through too easily,” Penick said.
A similar bill introduced last year stalled as lawmakers considered logistical problems that local law enforcement and the judicial branch faced in recovering those weapons.
Terri Mawdsley, leader of the Frederick County chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, supports a bill that would apply background checks to secondary transactions of rifles and shotguns. “A gun’s a gun, no matter what ... and every single firearm purchase should have a background check,” Mawdsley said.
The measure — which would apply to secondary transactions between private individuals — has been introduced before, but is opposed by gun rights organizations and sportsmen’s groups.
Frederick County Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4, sits on the Judicial Proceedings Committee that will consider the proposed changes to Maryland’s gun laws.
Hough said the No. 1 issue his constituents bring up unprompted is changing Maryland to a “shall issue” state through legislation like the bills proposed by Norman and Salling. Though such bills have been introduced in the General Assembly the past three years, they have not gotten votes in the judicial committees.
Hough said he focuses each year on introducing narrowly focused pro-gun bills and trying to kill the anti-gun bills.
This year, he’s sponsoring two bills. One would allow handgun permit applicants to provide their handgun qualification license number during the permit application process rather than having to provide a copy of the license. The other bill would extend the time period for handgun permits and permit renewals to five years.
Hough said the most significant piece of legislation pending in his committee would create Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones on college campuses in the state, a measure he opposes. After extensive testimony, the measure was passed by the House of Delegates earlier this session. It has failed to pass both chambers in previous years.