New Maryland gun control legislation among toughest in nation
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation strengthening the state’s gun control measures on May 15, making the state's laws among the most stringent in the country.
Provisions in the 62-page law include:
- Submission of fingerprints to state police in order to obtain a handgun license,
- Bans on 45 types of assault weapons,
- Limits on magazine capacities to 10 bullets,
- Penatlites for those who do not report lost or stolen weapons to the police,
- Bans on so-called “cop killing” bullets,
- Bans on gun ownership for those involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, or those who voluntarily committed themselves for more than 30 days,
- Requirements for a 4-hour training requirement for first time handgun buyers.
The legislation has been met with opposition. Both public and private entities are backing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) plan to file a lawsuit against the bill, according to local newspaper The Star Democrat. Delegate Neil Parrot, for one, has led petitions to put gun control legislation on ballots for voters to decide for years. However, Parrot announced he now supports the NRA’s court action rather than attempts to overturn the law in a referendum.
“The National Rifle Association’s position and concerns will be made very clear when we file our lawsuit,” Jacqueline Otto, an NRA spokeswoman told the paper. The organization has not announced when it plans to file suit.
Take Back Maryland, a political action committee dedicated to second amendment rights, is raising money to defeat incumbent politicians who helped pass the legislation. David Ridgeway, treasurer of the committee, told the Sun tens of thousands of dollars have been raised in just two weeks, with donations averaging $150 per person.
Meanwhile, gun control advocates are launching an effort to defend the legislation and the politicians who backed it, according to the Sun.
“We know that the other side will be attacking the legislators who voted for it, and we want people to know those legislators were doing the right thing to save lives in Maryland,” Vincent DeMarco, president of political action group Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Sun. DeMarco’s group is funding a television ad campaign praising the legislation and the lawmakers behind it. The purpose of the ads is to bolster support among Maryland voters in case of a referendum.
Chairman of the public policy department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Donald Norris, said that while the NRA’s pending lawsuit is menacing, the efforts to oust pro-gun control politicians may be ill-fated. “Whether that will work in Maryland, I’m not so sure,” he told the Sun. “My gut tells me ‘no’. They might be able to knock off a few people, but I think it’s very much a long shot.”
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler released a 25-page legal review expressing confidence that the new gun control bill is both constitutional and legally defensible, according to The Star Democrat. In addition, the O’Malley administration highlighted what the measure will not do. For example, it does not require additional licensing for hunting firearms, nor will it retroactively make handgun owners obtain a license. It will also not require Maryland companies who manufacture assault weapons to cease production.