by Catherine Poe
WASHINGTON, March 5, 2013 — Spurred by the Newtown massacre, Maryland is poised to pass one of the strictest gun control laws in the country.
If Maryland does pass the legislation and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley does sign the bill, as is expected, one of the largest gun manufacturers in the country Beretta USA is considering a move elsewhere, taking with it approximately 400 jobs. Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has already put out the welcome mat for any gun manufacturers looking to move.
Berettaclaims that the law that would forbid 10-bullet magazines would make the manufacture of their 9mm 13-bullet magazine illegal in Maryland. Beretta says it moved one of its factories to Virginia the last time Maryland tightened its laws.
Such talk, however, doesn’t faze the people supporting the new legislation. They see the new law as long overdue. Even before the bill passes, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence had ranked Maryland’s gun laws as the seventh strictest in the nation.
The new law, which will probably be passed this week, would also ban 45 assault-type weapons, set up licensing and fingerprinting of gun buyers, and ban sales to anyone who has been committed to a mental hospital.
Passions run high on both sides as was evident at the gun control rally last Friday in historic Annapolis. The 2,000 people at the anti-gun rally, who came to hear the governor and other pro gun-control advocates speak before heading off to lobby their delegates afterwards, chanted “Save Lives Now.”
One woman, a wife of an Eastern Shore hunter, Joyce Scharch explained her support for the bill saying, “Assault weapons are the wrong weapons in the wrong hands.”
Quaker Mosie Harrington of Hyattsville, Md. said that more people had been killed with guns in the U.S. than in all the wars since the Revolutionary War.
Art Cizek, Easton, Md., said he was at the rally for all the Newtowners. “Every life is important. We believe we now have a legacy to transform the country.”
His sentiments were echoed by a pastor who said, “If not now, when? If not here, where? If not us, who?”
Others waved signs that read “The only thing this teacher packs is lunch,” “Arms are for hugging, not death,” and “If driving requires a license, then so does owning a gun.”
A recent poll of Marylanders found that 62% are in favor of stricter gun laws in Maryland and that 85% support the tough licensing and fingerprinting of gun buyers.
Pro-gun Advocates Look to Supreme Court
Meanwhile down the block, behind police lines, about 60 people showed up to protest the gun control rally. A quiet group, they tried to engage people on the way to the rally in a discussion about their pro-gun stance.
In conversations with them, it became apparent that there are degrees of passion about owning guns from the young man who strongly insisted that guns were necessary for citizens to protect themselves from the government taking over like Hitler did in Germany to the man who had a written statement arguing against the new legislation point by point, using the Constitution to make his case.
Ray Givens of Hancock, Md. said the passage of the law will be good in one sense since it will “wake up the Second Amendment Democrats to what is going on in the state.” He also saw it as the beginning of the end of Gov. O’Malley’s plans to run for president in 2016 and will end the chances of Attorney General Doug Gansler to be the next Maryland governor.
Gary T. Raynor, Federalsburg, Md., believed the law will pass, but the battle is far from over and will end up before the Supreme Court where it will, like the other laws, both federal and state, be struck down. He explained, “The gun control people may end up being sorry they ever started this fight.” And, yes, he knows that it will take years before the Justices will hear the case, but he is patient, believing his side will ultimately prevail in the courts.
As for the question of assault weapons being so easily available, they all defended owning them to protect their families. And they questioned whether it was an assault weapon that the Newtown shooter used, except on his mother, insisting it was an automatic handgun. They are waiting for the final police report to be released, vindicating their theory.
Even if Maryland passes its new, stricter gun laws, it is still adjacent to states that have no such laws, making guns easy to acquire across state lines and still being located on the I-95 corridor or what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls the Iron Highway to the Northeast.