ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s Senate president said he hopes senators will finish work on a major gun-control bill by Thursday night and send the measure to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature.
“Hopefully, I’m going to have the gun issue resolved by tonight,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller told reporters after the Senate’s first session Thursday.
Miller, D-Calvert, told senators during session that the changes made by the House of Delegates will be debated. He said after session that he hopes the Senate will be able to concur with the House changes and wrap up work on one of O’Malley’s top priorities this session.
“I would recommend that they do so,” Miller said.
Supporters say the measure would place Maryland’s gun laws among the strongest in the nation.
For example, Maryland would become the first state in almost 20 years to require people who buy handguns to provide their fingerprints to the state police — one of the strongest provisions in the bill. Only five other states have a similar law: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. The measure also would limit gun magazines to 10 bullets and ban 45 types of assault weapons.
The measure also includes a provision to address firearms access by the mentally ill. People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility would not be able to possess a firearm.
Opponents say the bill erodes Second Amendment rights. They also say the measure only cracks down on law-abiding gun owners, while doing little to address the actions of criminals.
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, said the measure won’t make anyone safer, and he said the bill was more about building O’Malley’s resume for a potential presidential run than safety.
“This may be great for political aspirations, for presidential aspirations, to pound your chest but, honestly, after twelve weeks of work, the bill that’s on the floor today will not improve the safety of the citizens of Maryland one bit,” Pipkin said.
The House made some substantial changes, but the measure still contains the major provisions backed by O’Malley and initially passed by the Senate more than a month ago.
One change would prohibit someone who receives probation before judgment for a violent crime from owning a gun. Another change requires someone to report a lost or stolen firearm.
O’Malley proposed the measure in the aftermath of December’s massacre at a Newtown, Conn., school, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.
The governor this week included $4.6 million in a supplemental budget to help implement the bill by paying for employees at a center for state police to enforce it. The measure also calls for $25 million to be made available for schools to invest in security measures such as locks, cameras and buzzer entrance systems.
The bill would take effect Oct. 1.
Maryland’s legislative session is scheduled to end Monday at midnight.