Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 14, 2013

Delegate wants ammo tax, annual fee to pay for mental health services

CUMBERLAND — A Baltimore County delegate hopes a tax on ammunition and an annual gun registration fee will help to fund mental health services in Maryland.

“I keep hearing things like ‘we’ll never completely get rid of gun violence’ or ‘there will always be school shootings.’”  I’m tired of that defeatist attitude. I haven’t given up on creating a better world where we don’t have to be afraid to send our kids to school in the morning because we’re not sure if they’ll come back,” said Delegate Jon S. Cardin, a nephew of U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin who plans to introduce the legislation next week.

The proposed legislation would create a 50 percent excise tax on firearm ammunition and a $25 gun registration fee, required annually, Cardin said in a press release. The money raised by the fees would help fully fund services for “mental health and the developmentally disabled in The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,” the press release said.

The legislation addresses something missing from the gun control debate. “The mental health aspect has been missing from the conversation on gun control ... comprehensive treatment for mental health is more difficult to access than weapons... .This legislation is meant to offers treatment to those who need it in the pursuit of both decreasing gun violence and creating a healthier society overall,” Cardin said.

Cardin is also co-sponsoring a proposed assault weapons ban.

Delegate Kevin Kelly, meanwhile, wants gun owners to remain anonymous.

“I am requesting the drafting of amendments to House Bill 90 which explicitly prohibit the Maryland State Police or any other entity of Maryland government from disclosing the names, addresses and any other information regarding Marylanders who own any firearms, regulated or unregulated,” said Kelly in an email to a member of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. The department drafts bills at the request of legislators. Kelly is now the lead sponsor of House Bill 90. He also wants the legislation to protect those with permits to carry concealed weapons.

“I do not want this legislation to only be limited, as it presently is, to Marylanders who possess concealed carry handgun permits,” Kelly said. In many states, such information is considered a public record. The issue became controversial after a New York newspaper recently published the names and addresses of handgun owners in two counties.

A full copy of HB 90 was not available Monday.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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