Poll suggests support of handgun licensing

People lined up outside the Senate office building this month to testify on gun control legislation.

A day before a Senate committee is expected to vote on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun control package, advocates released a poll showing that a vast majority of Marylanders support a licensing requirement to purchase handguns.

Advocates also arranged for a State House visit by Sarah Brady, a prominent campaigner for gun control whose husband, Jim, was paralyzed when he was shot during an assassination attempt while serving as press secretary for President Ronald Reagan.

Sarah Brady said she planned to meet Wednesday with Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. She urged Maryland residents to call legislators in the next several weeks to affirm their support for the administration’s comprehensive gun control package, which includes restricting access of the mentally ill to firearms, requiring a handgun license and banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

The most controversial component of the bill has been the licensing requirement. But a poll conducted by Annapolis-based Opinion Works found 81 percent of state residents — including 89 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans — would support the licensing requirement.

Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence commissioned the poll, which surveyed 974 randomly-selected registered voters in the state between Feb. 15 and 19. The sampling error is plus-or-minus 3.1 percent.

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