Cumberland Times-News

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February 6, 2013

Gun control hearing draws big crowd

O’Malley, Obama both push agenda in Annapolis before state, U.S. lawmakers

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley urged lawmakers on Wednesday to pass a comprehensive gun control measure in Maryland, as hundreds of residents came to the state capital to either support the bill or denounce it as an erosion of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, also was in Annapolis, where he met with U.S. Senate Democrats behind closed doors at a hotel as he tries to sell them on his strategies for taking up gun control, immigration and financial concerns.

O’Malley, a Democrat who has made the gun control proposal a top priority this legislative session, wants to ban assault weapons, strengthen licensing requirements for handguns, increase school security and address mental health issues related to firearms access. The governor’s push follows the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.

“This is not about ideology. This is about public safety,” O’Malley told the state Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “This is about doing reasonable things that work to save lives and prevent, hopefully, the sort of slaughter that our country sadly has been a witness to far too often in recent months and years.”

Opponents held a large rally that filled Lawyer’s Mall next to the governor’s residence and the Maryland State House before the hearing.

“I think they’re reacting in the wrong manner,” said Lou Levy of Parkton. “They’re trying to legislate the guns instead of the people that are doing the bad deeds. It’s pretty much that simple.”

The licensing changes have drawn some of the strongest criticism so far. It would require handgun owners to be fingerprinted by police.


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