If ever there was an issue ripe for petitioning to referendum it is Maryland’s sweeping gun control bill.
The General Assembly gave final approval to the legislation last week and sent the bill on to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley for signature. But there are indications the effect of the legislation may be delayed until the November 2014 election.
On the prospects of a referendum, Sen. Brian Frosh, the Chevy Chase Democrat who led the bill through the Senate, told the online news site Gazette.Net: “Everybody was anticipating this. There’s going to be millions of dollars in outside money coming into the state on this.”
Maryland and other states have been considering tighter gun control legislation because of mass shooting incidents like that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The legislation approved by Maryland lawmakers is considered among the strictest in the nation, calling for a ban on so-called assault weapons and requiring licensing, including fingerprints and a fee, to purchase handguns and other regulated firearms.
Gun owners and Second Amendment supporters have protested the legislation. Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a Middle River Republican, said an effort will get under way immediately to collect about 56,000 signatures by June 30 to bring the issue to a statewide referendum in 2014.
Gun control, along with the same-sex marriage law and casino gambling, has been one of the most controversial issues to be addressed by the Maryland legislature in recent years.
Although a poll conducted last month by Goucher College showed a large majority of Marylanders supporting licensing and fingerprinting to purchase handguns and restrictions on gun ownership by those with a history of mental health issues, the issue deserves to be brought before all of the state’s voters.
Let all Maryland voters have their say on the issue. Then there will be no doubt what the majority wants.