By Lindsey Collins
The College Park City Council unanimously approved a motion to send letters supporting stricter firearms laws for domestic violence convicts to the Maryland state government during a Feb. 27 meeting.
College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn brought up a possible “loophole” in firearms laws that pertains to those convicted of domestic violence crimes during a meeting last Tuesday at the College Park City Hall at 4500 Knox Road.
“Currently people who are convicted of domestic violence are not supposed to have guns,” Wojahn said. “But right now there is no indication that they must give up the guns they have.”
The motion comes less than a week after Cpl. Mujahid A. Ramzziddin of the Prince George’s County Police Department was fatally shot while off-duty when he stepped in to protect a domestic violence victim in a Brandywine neighborhood.
The alleged shooter, 37-year-old Glenn Tyndell, had three open warrants for assault, according to court records.
Tyndell was also arrested for violating a protective order in March 2013 and for assault in September 2010, courts records show.
Maryland state law prohibits the sale or possession of “regulated firearms,” defined as a handgun or assault weapon, to any person convicted a domestic violence crime, according to the Public Safety Section of The Code of Maryland.
“There is a requirement in Maryland state law that if somebody has a protective order against them that they give up their guns,” said Wojahn. “It does not apply to people who are convicted of domestic assault without a protective order issued against them.”
Though these laws are in place, many worry that there is no statewide system set into place to effectively remove guns from those convicted of domestic violence cases.
“I am actually supportive of the letter going up, but what this does and how it got started was by judicial watch out of Montgomery County,” Dan Blasberg, a College Park resident since 1999, said. “They noticed that judges who sentenced individuals to cases of domestic violence did not advise those individuals that they were required to give up their firearms now that they were prohibited.”
Wojahn hopes this is just the first step toward tightening state laws for those convicted of domestic violence.
“The death of the police officer in Brandywine highlights the larger problems of what happens when people who are abusive have access to weapons,” Wojahn said. “Hopefully this will help to tighten our state laws for that.”