Supporters of Maryland’s gun-control legislation from across the state chanted “Save lives now!” alongside state lawmakers, religious leaders, mothers and children Friday in Annapolis.
“If we want better results, we have to make better choices,” Gov. Martin O’Malley told the boisterous crowd gathered on Lawyers’ Mall near the State House.
The advocates got the results they were looking for in the Senate, which passed the bill by a 28-19 vote Thursday. The legislation was first heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
The proposed law would ban assault weapons, require a license to buy a handgun and limit magazines to 10 bullets. Gun dealers and prospective owners face stricter regulation and gun purchasing for those with mental illnesses will be limited under the law.
The state’s gun laws would be among the toughest in the nation, and the debate has already attracted national attention, much like last year’s approval of same-sex marriage.
|Sights and sounds from the gun-control rally|
“This is Maryland. If we can’t do it here, where?” said the Rev. Dr. Carletta Allen of Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis, who spoke passionately at the rally.
Many of the supporters said the shooting in Newtown, Conn., moved them into action and they are ready for stricter laws.
“I’m a mom of two elementary school kids,” said Heidi Lovett of Silver Spring, holding a sign reading “Mothers (and other sensible people) Want Gun Violence Ended Now.”
“I’m here because when Newtown happened I realized I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and I needed to take action and get involved,” Lovett said.
Mary Jo Kirschman, a retired librarian from Baltimore City, said that she had to go through fingerprinting to become a teacher and it makes sense that gun purchasers should, too.
“I can’t stand the pain that children and families go through as a result of gun violence,” Kirschman said. Any change is a “step to controlling the culture of violence that we have,” she said.
Ryan Hopkins, an avid hunter, said he has always been a gun owner, learning to shoot from his father and teaching his own son. He called the legislation reasonable.
“The time to sit back and do nothing has long passed,” he told the crowd. “And as a gun owner, I do not feel threatened by the proposed legislation. I feel threatened by the lack of it.”
Supporters said the legislation is common sense.
“There’s still too much violence in communities around our state,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. “We need a common sense approach to reducing unlawful guns in our state and we need it now.”
“We need this bill,” Hopkins added. “We need common sense gun legislation right now.”
I wish my magazine held less ammunition. Said no one. Ever. Who is being or might be attacked by a violent criminal.