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Maryland General Assembly passes gun control bill

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Published on: Sunday, April 07, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

On Thursday, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill that will place tighter restrictions on gun owners in the state.

“Together, with a strong coalition of advocates, and the people of Maryland who overwhelmingly support policies to reduce gun violence, we’ve chosen to take action by advancing strategies that work to save lives,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement.

The Maryland Firearm Safety Act will ban Maryland residents from owning military-style assault weapons, such as AK-47s and AR-15s, and limit magazines for high-power guns to 10 rounds. Maryland will also require finger printing licensing — becoming only one of five other states in the country with similar requirements for gun owners. Another provision in the bill allows the state to shutter gun shops that become “sources for gun crimes.”

“We commend Gov. Martin O’Malley for his leadership and members of the Maryland General Assembly for their historic and courageous vote,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement from the governor’s office. “In the post-Newtown era, the State of Maryland has provided a model for common-sense gun violence prevention legislation to take illegal guns off of our streets.”

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown hopes the passage of this legislation will inspire other states to follow suit. But he’s under no illusions that the new law will completely wipe out violent crime in the state.

“This bill is not going to rid all communities of every act of violence that may occur, but it’s going to go a long way,” Brown said. “An overwhelming (number) of Marylanders wanted this bill passed now … they wanted a robust licensing requirement.”

But some Maryland residents said the bill treads on the rights of legal gun owners, which will prevent them from being able to defend themselves.

Bowie resident Webster Powell said he legally owns shotguns, rifles and pistols, and he thinks the bill only weakens the rights of legal gun owners and doesn’t do much to stop criminals who use illegal guns.

“The bill aims to take away firearms from legal gun owners,” Powell said. “It does nothing to take away the firearms from legal gun owners.”

Another admitted problem with the bill is that it doesn’t extend to the national level, a problem Brown implores federal legislators to fix.

“I think it’s particularly important that stronger licensing happen on a national level,” Brown said, “which means Congress needs to step up and act as well.”

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