ROCKVILLE — More than a dozen Montgomery County elected officials gathered in front of the steps of the County Council building Monday to unite in calling for stricter gun laws, adding to the chorus of those crying out for action in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting which claimed the lives of 17 people last month.
The event was organized in part by Student Member of the Board of Education Matthew Post. The Sherwood HS senior had sought to bring together politicians and public officials from across the county to call on Congress to “do something” about guns.
“As we all know, the regulations of guns is a state and a federal issue, but all issues in some way are local,” said Council member Sidney Katz (D-3). “[A]s a local elected official, I recognize the need to be vocal and let our colleagues know that enough is enough.”
Among the veritable who’s who of Montgomery County politics in attendance were eight of nine County Council members – save for Tom Hucker (D-5) – along with County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). Mayors from across the County also appeared, including Bridgett Donnell Newton of Rockville, Jud Ashman of Gaithersburg, and Joli McCathran of Washington Grove. County law enforcement was also well-represented by the County’s elected sheriff, Darren M. Popkin (D) and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy (D), as well as Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Russ Hamill.
Speakers and other attendees expressed anger at Congress’ failure to pass a single new gun control bill, while remaining empathetic toward victims of mass shootings. Both District 2 Council member Craig Rice (D) and Assistant Chief Hamill made empathetic pleas for stricter federal gun laws by recounting conversations they’ve had with their children on what to do in an active shooter scenario, which while painful, were necessitated by the glut of recent mass shootings.
Council members Nancy Navarro (D-4), Craig Rice (D-2) and Marc Elrich (D-at large) and State’s Attorney McCarthy praised the state’s 2013 ban on high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons, passed in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. The ban prohibits the sale of semi-automatic rifles with military-style features like a folding stock or flash suppressor, and requires prospective gun buyers to be fingerprinted and successfully complete a training class before being allowed to purchase a gun.
“I don’t think anyone has figured anything the County can do to make things more difficult for people to have guns,” Elrich said. “I mean, the state has already made it hard.”
With the General Assembly having done its part years ago, Congress and the president remained the main recipients of speakers’ ire, as one local elected official after another stepped up to blast federal authorities’ inaction on this issue, while McCarthy also touted a number of bills before the General Assembly that would make it easier for courts and sheriff departments to take guns away from convicted domestic abusers
“There are 30 bills this year, right now in the legislature. Everyone who really cares about gun safety should familiarize themselves with them,” McCarthy said.