Maryland

Maryland legislators hear multiple gun bills as Sheriff vows to ignore the law

During what was dubbed “gun day” by local papers, Maryland legislators held hearings on a number of gun related bills that would, among other things, ban untraceable printed firearms add to the list of banned weapons, and add restrictions to the sale and transfer of long guns. From Kate Ryan, WTOP:

Jan Donohoe McNamara testified about the night her family heard that her brother-in-law, Capital Gazette reporter John McNamara, was among the five people targeted in the deadly attack at the local news outlet in June 2018.

McNamara told lawmakers, “The man who stormed the Gazette newsroom less than four miles away from where we are sitting right now used a long gun to destroy as many lives as he could.”

She testified in favor of new restrictions on the sale and transfer of long guns under House Bill 786.

A House committee also heard testimony related to HB 740, which targets untraceable 3D firearms, and HB 612, which would ban a specific model of AR-15 rifle. But it was 786 that drew the most attention. The legislation would require a special license before a long gun could be purchased, meaning additional regulation of shotguns and rifles on par with what is currently required for handguns From Chase Cook, Capital Gazette:

Supporters of the bill … argued the bill could reduce the instances of suicide by long guns by preventing immediate purchase. Firearms make up about half of all suicide deaths in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016 statistics.

Requiring the license and background checks by unlicensed sellers could prevent the gun from falling into the wrong hands, supporters said.

“We don’t understand why one gun doesn’t have a background check and the other doesn’t when they are both just as deadly,” said Danielle Veith, the Maryland Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Regardless of the eventual fate of these bills in the state legislature, a disturbing trend being seen in other states is making an appearance in Maryland - local Sheriffs vowing not to abide by new regulations duly passed by lawmakers. This time, it’s Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who promised after his testimony on HB 786 that he wouldn’t instruct his deputies to enforce it:

Great Mills High School senior Jaxon O’Mara said Lewis’ comments concerned her. She was in the overflow room when Lewis and other sheriffs addressed the crowd.

O’Mara was a friend of Jaelynn Willey, the 16-year-old who died after being shot at Great Mills on March 22. The shooter in that incident killed himself during the attack.

“I personally know the effects of gun violence in the community,” O’Mara said. “And to know there are police officers in the state … that are actively working against this common sense legislation. It broke my heart.”

LEAP Forward will continue to monitor all these bills as they work their way through the state legislature.