Del. Jon S. Cardin Proposes $5.7 Million Fund for Mental Health from Firearms Revenues

Cardin says the fund will help our most vulnerable population while limiting the chances of another Sandy Hook happening in Maryland

Annapolis, MD – Delegate Jon S. Cardin plans to introduce legislation dedicating the tax revenues collected from the sale of firearms and ammunition to the funding of mental health initiatives run by the Developmental Disabilities Administration. This legislation continues Delegate Cardin’s commitment to protecting Maryland’s most vulnerable populations while also ensuring that Maryland’s streets remain safe from dangerous individuals with deadly weapons. Last week, Delegate Cardin introduced a bill to close the firearms loophole that allows individuals to possess handguns without a completed background check.

Delegate Cardin said, “There is a vital need for this law. We know that the vast majority of mentally ill will never commit a violent crime, but we need to do a better job identifying and treating those who may pose a risk. There is no reason we should ever have a Sandy Hook in Maryland.  We have to invest the money to identify and treat the small number of mentally ill Marylanders that pose a risk, and that is what this bill helps accomplish.”

Delegate Cardin continued, “This is one of those rare opportunities where all constituencies on both sides of the aisle from the National Rifle Association (NRA) to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) agree. In fact, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA has even stated we should concentrate our resources on mental health to reduce gun violence in America. While I don’t fully agree with Mr. LaPierre’s approach to gun control, I do agree that making a significant investment in mental health goes a long way to reducing the risks of a Sandy Hook in Maryland.”

Delegate Cardin concluded, “While I enthusiastically supported the Governor’s gun law, we have to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. We need to close the loophole that allows people to get handguns without background checks, and we need to identify and treat the mentally ill who may be at risk for violent behavior. In my opinion, this bill protects and supports our most vulnerable population, the disabled, and helps protect Maryland’s families and children.”

Furthermore, despite funding increases from the Legislature’s 2011 increase in the tax on alcohol, the Developmental Disabilities Administration maintains a $22 million budget deficit and currently is unable to fund significant needs for Maryland’s developmentally disabled community. Based on estimates from the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) for House Bill 1277 in 2013, this proposal will raise about $5.68 million dollars and help reduce that deficit. The DLS fiscal note used a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey reporting that Americans spent $7.7 billion on firearms and ammunition for “hunting purposes” in 2011. Assuming that Maryland residents purchased hunting equipment and ammunition proportionate to the nation as a whole, Delegate Cardin’s fund will create $5.68 million in revenues. In fact, the fund may create more than $5.68 million because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey included only spending on “hunting purposes,” but not other firearms related purchases such as self defense, home defense, or recreation.