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County supports gun control

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Published on: Thursday, January 17, 2013

By Christa Puccio

The Montgomery County Council entered into the gun control debate when it approved a resolution to urge Gov. Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly to enact legislation that would address gun permits and mental health.

The legislation would require mental health providers to report to agencies granting gun permits to any individual who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or has been found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness.

“I think there has definitely been some interest in finding out how we can be supportive.  I mean, obviously constituents understand that it’s not in our hands necessarily, but we can at least send forth a message to our state delegation as well as our federal counterparts,” said Navarro.  “There is interest in that respect.”

The resolution the council approved states: “The Council urges Congress and the General Assembly to enact legislation without delay that would establish a protocol for requiring certain professionals, including mental health providers, to report to agencies granting gun permits any individual who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or has been found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness; establish regulations to prevent the unauthorized disclosure or improper use of this mental health information; indemnify such professionals from civil damages for any good-faith report of a mental health diagnosis for the purpose of restricting gun ownership; ban armor-piercing bullets, all forms of assault weapons, and magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds; remove the restrictions Congress has placed on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing its gun database with local law enforcement’ close the “gun show loophole; and increase mandatory penalties for criminals convicted of carrying and using firearms in the commission of a violent crime.”

O’Malley sent out an email describing his intentions in regards to gun control: “We need a comprehensive approach,” O’Malley wrote.  “That's why in the next few days, I'll unveil a three-pronged strategy focused on gun safety, school safety and mental health.”

According to O’Malley’s email, the “three-pronged strategy” includes:

“1.) Gun safety: We should ban military-style assault weapons, limit large ammunition capacity, and require licenses for handgun purchases. We respect the rights of hunters and sportsmen and that's why our licensing requirements will NOT apply to shotguns or rifles.

2.) School safety: We will invest in security upgrades for schools, including cameras at entrances, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass and buzzer entrance systems. We will also establish a "Maryland Center for School Safety," which will amplify our efforts by gathering meaningful data and serving as a central hub for collaboration between our federal, state and local law enforcement partners.

3.) Mental heath: We will improve data sharing practices between federal and state officials. In addition, we will invest more to improve mental health services so we can intervene early and reduce the potential for violent behavior. We'll expand crisis intervention teams, expand response services and establish a center for excellence on early intervention for serious mental illness.”

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