ANNAPOLIS — Sen. Ron Young planned to introduce a bill to establish a statewide gun buyback program for assault weapons this session.
Then he saw a fiscal policy note that indicated how much it would cost the state roughly $2 million to run the program beginning in fiscal 2022.
"I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the fiscal note they put on it," Young (D-Frederick) said Wednesday.
Young has since withdrawn that bill, Senate Bill 55. It proposed an income tax checkoff through implementing an assault weapon buyback program run by the Maryland State Police. It would have allocated $50,000 annually beginning in fiscal 2022 for the fund, $10,000 of which would be used for marketing and awareness campaigns in the fund's first year.
State police argued the fund would have required more officers at barracks statewide to administer the fund, which would in part lead to more than $2 million in program costs in its first year.
Young said once he saw that fiscal note, he knew it was going to be killed in the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee.
"I just didn’t want to go in and take time at a hearing," he said. "It was something that was going no place fast, and I just decided to withdraw it."
The tax checkoff in Young's proposal would have been in $5 amounts — individuals could choose to reduce that amount from their refund or add it to their taxes owed to the state.
Young said he anticipated around $300,000 could have been generated in the first year, but state police estimated in the fiscal policy note that its initial costs of running the program would be around $1.9 million.
Ron Snyder, public information officer for Maryland State Police, declined to comment on Young's bill Wednesday.
Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) said he didn't believe a buyback program would have been effective, because most people sell "junk" or "inoperable guns" instead of working assault weapons.
"It's just not an effective use of state resources and time," Hough said. "Criminals aren’t going to come in and say, ‘Well, I'm going to turn this in and get money.’ They’ve just proven people turn in junk and guns people don’t want."
In order to target crime, legislators should look at illegal handguns, Hough said.
The bill was originally scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee before Young withdrew it. He said he's interested in bringing it back next session if there's a way to reduce the cost to state police.