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Legislators Take Aim at Gun Legislation

Hundreds head to Annapolis to testify for and against a package of bills that would tighten gun regulations in Maryland.

Gun control supporters and opponents descended on a hearing room in Annapolis to debate a package of bills that is likely to be as divisive as any issue during the 90-day General Assembly session.

Gov. Martin O'Malley said his legislation was driven by the shootings in Newtown, CT. and more than 500 shooting deaths in Maryland last year.

"We are still losing too many of our citizens to gun violence," O'Malley said. "There's no such thing in our state as a spare American."

Hundreds gathered outside the State House Wednesday morning, hours before O'Malley was to testify, to rally against the proposed laws.

A line of people waiting to testify stretched outside the Senate office building. More than 500 people signed up to testify even though the committee limited testimony to just three minutes per person and a total of four hours each for all supporters and opponents of the proposed laws.

The committee took testimony on four bills that would make it more difficult for "straw buyers" to illegally obtain guns for criminals, increase gun licensing regulations, limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and increase the penalties for armor-piercing ammunition.

But O'Malley's bill, which bans so-called military-style assault weapons and requires fingerprinting for all handgun purchases, drew the most testimony.

"We're licensing handguns not hunting rifles," O'Malley said.

Opponents of the bill say it unfairly penalizes legal gun owners and will hurt area businesses.

Tom Morris, a senior correspondent for the television show America's Most Wanted and a Maryland resident, said that while he understands why the legislature is considering the bill is merely reactionary.

"We are at a point where we all want something done about mass murder, mass violence," Morris said.

"At this juncture in our society, hysteria is ruing the debate," Morris said, adding that the bill as drafted "is detached from the basic realities of firearm ownership."

"it's punitive to law abiding citizens in this state," Morris said.

Jeff Reh, an attorney for Beretta USA, said O'Malley's bill has "raised a serious level of concern within the company."

The portion of the company located in the United States is headquartered in Accokeek, MD. The company expects to pay $31 million in taxes over the period of 1994 to 2014 and employee about 400 people, according to Reh.

"We're not confronted with a state that wants to ban the product we make," said Reh.

A number of law enforcement officials and states attorneys testified in favor of the bill.

"We have to be able to agree that there needs to be a line between the reasonable rights of gun owners and the right of the public to be safe," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

Shellenberger's office is responsible for the prosecution of Robert Gladden Jr., a student at Perry Hall High School who is charged with a shooting inside the cafeteria on the first day of school.

Gladden is accused of using a shotgun in that incident where one student, Daniel Borowy, was shot but Shellenberger said could have been much worse.

"There was a handgun that had 10 bullets in it and [Gladden] desired that weapon but could not get it because it was under lock and key," said Shellenberger.

Additional Gun Legislation Coverage:

  • Current Maryland Gun Laws and Proposed Changes
  • Pro-Gun Protesters Rally Outside Maryland State House
Sanchez March 07, 2013 at 11:41 PM
"In 2011, the number of people who committed suicide in Japan was 30,513 according to the health ministry" "In 2009, the number of suicides was 32,753, the fifth highest of all time" "In 2003, there was a record 34,427 suicides. This works out to almost 90 a day. Common suicide methods include jumping in front of trains, leaping from buildings, hanging oneself, and carbon monoxide poisoning" Who needs guns to kill yourself?
Sanchez March 07, 2013 at 11:44 PM
"now a days they hardly rate in organized armed conflict." What does that mean to the debate of the 2nd amendment? All "firearms in common use" at the time are protected according to Heller in 2008. There IS indeed "special constitutional consideration" in the written decision.
Chris W March 08, 2013 at 10:58 AM
"and had they not engaged in armed resistance they'd be alive today." The same could be said of many of the patriots that gave their lives at bunker hill and many other times during the revolution. Some men are not sheep willing to be led to slaughter.
Chris W March 08, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Steve stamps his feet. No. No. No. Steve is not interested in the truth, but in framing the debate on-line. He is likely a paid Obamabot.
Chris W March 08, 2013 at 11:11 AM
Once again Steve is right and everyone else is wrong.

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