Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 4, 2013

Maryland Firearm Safety act will save lives

Dear Delegate Vallario,

On behalf of the Allegany County Branch of the NAACP, we are writing to express our support for the pending legislation to reduce gun violence in the state of Maryland. This letter is being submitted separately to Vice Chair Dumais, and copies are being sent to the remaining members of the House Judiciary Committee.

As proponents of safe, sane and sensible gun violence prevention laws, policies and programs, we believe that the pending legislation includes the essentials that will keep families safer and curb gun violence in the state of Maryland.

If passed in its entirety the legislation will improve current state laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous persons, while upholding the second amendment rights of law abiding gun owners .

In particular, we support the gun safety provisions to establish a ban on all assault weapons and to reduce the allowable magazine capacity from 20 rounds to 10 rounds.

We also support the gun licensing provision that will reduce the illegal flow of weapons to criminals, while carving out an exception for gun purchases by hunters and sportsmen for hunting rifles and shotguns.

Similar license-to-purchase laws have been passed in other states and are proven to be effective. According to a study published in the Journal of Urban Health in 2009, interstate gun trafficking was 68 percent lower in cities located in a state with a license-to-purchase requirement.

A recent Washington Post poll finds that Marylanders strongly support the gun safety provisions in the pending legislation.

Overall, more than 60 percent favor stricter gun laws in Maryland and on a federal level. Across the state, 85 percent are in favor of the gun licensing plan with 73 percent indicating “strong” support.

We urge you to stand up against lobbyists for gun manufacturers who strive to preserve the status quo and block even the most common sense and widely accepted gun safety proposals. They have spread falsehoods and half-truths to provoke fear and paranoia.

The gun safety provisions in the pending legislation protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible citizens, do not ban handguns, and are consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

In addition to the gun safety provision, we support the school safety provisions which include security enhancements such as cameras at school entrances, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass, and buzzer entry systems.

We also support the proposals to improve data sharing among state and federal officials for background checks and provisions for better mental health delivery services and early intervention to reduce potentially violent behavior.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acts of gun violence take the lives of approximately 30,000 Americans each year in America.

Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death among teens, and communities of color suffer disproportionately.

The majority of the shootings go unnoticed by the national media, but to the families and loved ones the tragedies are no less real.

We trust we can count on you to support the pending legislation to reduce gun violence in the state of Maryland.  The Firearm Safety Act will save the lives of innocent people.

Bernard Wynder, president

Robin Summerfield, political action chair

Richard Jones, communications chair

Allegany County Branch, NAACP

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