Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday announced broad details of a sweeping four-point proposal to limit gun violence in Maryland, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines like those used in the Newtown school shooting, as well as some of the nation's strictest gun licensing rules.
Speaking at a gun policy summit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, O'Malley said he also planned to introduce legislation to strengthen school security and aid those with severe mental illnesses.
"There is a sickness in this country and that sickness is gun violence," O'Malley said, repeating a phrase he has used on national television and at public events in the weeks after the Connecticut shooting that killed 20 children. "Gun violence is truly a public health issue," O'Malley said.
He said he would introduce a "comprehensive legislative package" this week that was drafted with the aid of state health secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and state school superintendent Lillian M. Lowery.
O'Malley vowed to ban "military assault weapons that have no place on our streets" and to limit the size of gun magazines to prevent mass shootings.
The new licensing rules, an aide said, would require fingerprinting before the purchase of any firearm except for rifles and shotguns, a move to spare hunters and sportsmen from the requirement. The extra scrutiny is aimed to cut down on so-called "straw purchasers," gun buys made on behalf of people who do not want to be linked to the weapon.
Gun-control advocates celebrated the proposed licensing requirements as "the best thing the state can do, the best thing to reduce gun violence," according to Vincent DeMarco, an Annapolis gun-control lobbyist and national coordinator of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
"Someone asks you to purchase a handgun for them, and you know they're going to use it in a crime, and you have to go the state police to get fingerprinted, you're certainly not going to do it," DeMarco said.
But the proposals are likely to face fierce opposition from gun rights supporters in Annapolis.
O'Malley vowed to standardize school safeguards across the state, noting that safety standards currently vary widely. He plans to create a state center for school safety and devote funds from the capital budget for schools to making the buildings safer.
He also announced plans to focus resources on providing early intervention for those with serious mental health issues.
But O'Malley, who introduced New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, focused in his remarks on controlling the sale of the most lethal weapons.
"It makes no sense when you look at the carnage on our streets to blame every factor except guns," he said. ___
(c)2013 The Baltimore Sun
What do you guys think about this?