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Public safety town hall turns into gun control debate


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Published on: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

A public safety town hall grew heated at Prince George’s Community College as a panel of state political figures and health experts, including Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, addressed a crowd of more than 70 last Tuesday.

“These town halls are a chance for us to continue our conversation with the community on how we can work towards a safer and stronger Maryland,” Anthony said in a press release.

But some in the audience thought that the new proposed laws would trample the rights of current gun owners around Maryland.

“Driving automobiles is a right around our state,” said Bob Beaman, Mitchellville resident. “So our right to firearms is stronger than our rights for driving.”

Still, residents in the audience were visibly angered at what they deemed an attempt by the state to stifle the rights of gun owners.

Among other things, the new proposed gun laws in Maryland would:

• Reduce the current allowed magazine capacity to 10-rounds.

• Update safety training for handgun owners.

• Completely ban assault rifle ownership.

• Add to the prohibited purchasers list people who have been people ordered to medical treatment and deemed potentially violent by a court of law, and people who are in guardianship.

Hunting rifles and shotgun will not be banned under the new proposal.

Some state gun sellers think the proposed rules are onerous and say they would reduce gun sales.

“They’re prohibiting my commerce. This bill treats every law abiding citizen as if they’re a criminal,” said Jeff Underwood, Howard County gun shop owner. “I can no longer have an AR-15 type rifle in my shop because I can’t have it in the state.”

Not all residents see the new proposal as a bad thing. Some view it as a way to curb potential gun violence, such as that planned by an Anne Arundel man last summer in Crofton. Last July, Neil Edwin Prescott, 28 was ordered to emergency psychiatric evaluation after Prince George’s County police said he “wanted to see the supervisor’s brains splattered all over the sidewalk” and police found 15 guns and “several thousand rounds” of ammunition in his Crofton apartment.

Prescott was never arrested for the incident.

Elizabeth Tyson also lives in Crofton and remembers the incident. She thinks these new proposal will certain curb potential for tragedy within the state.

“He had many, many rounds, and many, many weapons,” Tyson said. “They were obtained legally, but why does anyone need those rounds?”

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