ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland measure enacted last year tightening the state’s gun-control laws has been a recurring issue in the governor’s race.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a Democrat, and Republican Larry Hogan have collided over the law in their two debates so far.
Brown supports it and has made the issue a focus of television ads. Hogan has vigorously denied the ads that say he would try to roll back the law. He contends his opponent is simply trying to shift the subject away from economic issues that voters really care about this election.
“Just because my opponent runs commercials over and over again trying to make it about something else isn’t going to change the voters,” Hogan said in Monday’s debate on News Channel 8.
Brown, however, has pressed Hogan on gun control.
“Look, what Maryland voters need is a governor who has the courage of their conviction to not only just say: ‘Look, that’s settled law, and I won’t repeal it,'” Brown said. “But the question is: ‘Are you going to vigorously enforce it? Are you going to fund the enforcement, and are you going to embrace it?”
The law banned 45 assault weapons and put a limit on gun magazines to 10 rounds. It requires handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints to the state police.
Hogan contends it isn’t effective.
“The only thing it really has accomplished so far is to drive up gun ownership,” he said.
Hogan has been asked repeatedly about a report in The Washington Post this month that cited gun advocates who say Hogan has been privately telling supporters he would work to expand access to firearms. Hogan was asked by a Post reporter on Monday’s debate panel whether he would appoint a Maryland State Police superintendent sympathetic to gun owners and whether he would make it easier to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Hogan declined to comment specifically on either.
“I can’t speak to that, but I can assure you that as governor I take an oath of office that says I’m going to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States and of the state of Maryland,” Hogan said. “The Constitution has the Second Amendment in it, which, obviously, you have to protect peoples’ Second Amendment rights, and we have a number of gun laws that I also have to agree to enforce.”
It’s the kind of answer that hasn’t satisfied some gun-control supporters. On Tuesday, a small group of women led by Liz Banach, of Maryland Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, delivered a letter asking Hogan to release a questionnaire he filled out for the National Rifle Association. The letter also asked Hogan to explain how he would fully enforce the gun-control law.
“I think he’s been very evasive,” Banach said.