- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

If Maryland's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is such an effective crime-fighter, why has Maryland failed to perform hundreds of criminal background checks of would-be gun purchasers? It's a question Mrs. Townsend's Republican opponent, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, has begun asking in print and television ads in response to criticism leveled at him by the Townsend camp on the gun-control issue.
Mr. Ehrlich, who favors sensible measures that do not infringe upon law-abiding citizens, has been tarred as an "extremist" and worse by the Townsend campaign. Yet it appears that Mrs. Townsend, who as the state's current lieutenant governor must accept some responsibility for the actions of the administration she heads along with current Governor Parris N. Glendening, has not done very much to keep convicted felons from obtaining firearms in the state of Maryland. Even though criminal background checks of gun buyers are required under existing Maryland law, the House Judiciary Committee discovered that from March to July of this year, these checks were not performed, apparently as a result of budget cutbacks. "It's a singular but egregious example of gross inconsistency. They're running around screaming about me, but they can't find $45,000 for the instant checks," said Mr. Ehrlich who further described the omission as "ridiculous" and "negligent."
This is not the first instance of ineptitude on the part of the Glendening-Townsend administration. Three years ago, in 1999, 49 handguns were "lawfully" purchased by people who had no business being allowed access to firearms. Maryland State Police had to seize the weapons after the fact. Background checks that would have uncovered previous convictions or other disqualifiers had, once again, not been performed as required by law. And at least two murders can be attributed to the failed and incompetent gun policies of the Glendening-Townsend administration. In 1999, a Laurel man secured a handgun, even though a restraining order had been filed against him which should have precluded his ability to lawfully purchase the weapon and used it to kill his two children. So much for "gun-control that works."
Mr. Ehrlich wants to pursue the bad guys and put them away; his opponent prefers to demagogue issues even stooping so low as to exploit the recent sniper shootings rather than deal with problems in an effective manner. The choice for voters is as clear as the growing desperation of the Townsend campaign, which continues to smear Mr. Ehrlich as an extremist in order to cover up the abysmal record of the Glendening-Townsend administration on gun safety.

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