Last Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley held the first public hearing on his gun control proposal, which includes a ban on military-style ‘assault’ weapons.
The hearing was open to advocates on both sides of the debate. While there were a few pro-gun control supporters who attended, the overwhelming majority of the more than 700 folks who showed up were unapologetically and enthusiastically pro gun.
Frustrated by the number of people who were there to oppose his bill, which would also require gun owners to submit digital fingerprints, a staffer for the Governor’s office lashed out against the National Rifle Association for its role in helping to mobilize law-abiding gun owners.
In a blog posting on the Governor’s homepage entitled “The NRA: Drowning out Marylanders,” staffer Zoe Pagonis implied that the NRA cowed gun owners into attending the hearing.
“The majority of Marylanders, including many responsible gun owners, support common sense legislation to prevent gun violence,” Pagonis wrote.
“But the PR wing of the NRA, lobbyists for gun manufacturers, and others who want to block any and all gun safety ideas would have you to believe otherwise. For weeks, they’ve been spreading falsehoods and using scare tactics to mislead Marylanders,” she continued.
Pagonis did not provide specific examples of how the nation’s gun lobby misled or scared Marylanders. Instead, she said that the NRA “may be shouting louder, but Marylanders know better.” She then went on to list Facebook comments from a number of gun control proponents who backed the Governor’s bill.
“Here are a few of the voices that have been drowned out by the NRA propaganda machine,” she wrote.
O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory defended the controversial blog post, telling the Washington Post that it’s “an opportunity to talk more about what the bill really does.”
“Because [opponents] are so vocal, what the bill actually does is not being heard,” Guillory said, noting that the Governor did indeed approve the post.
Thanks to the Internet, video from the hearing has surfaced. Arguably, what it depicts in not a bunch of wide-eyed lemmings who’ve been duped into rallying for a cause they know little about, but rather it shows a group of passionate and informed activists who are expressing concern that the Governor is attempting to subvert their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
Evidence that Gov. O’Malley may be overreaching with his gun control proposal might be found in a letter he sent to all registered gun owners earlier in the week in which he tried to clarify a portion of his bill that would ban ammunition for individuals under 21, except ammo used for hunting (How did he get the names and addresses of gun owners? He accessed the state database, a move that was destine to irk many gun owners):
I wanted to make sure you are aware of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ latest Junior Waterfowl Hunting Day, which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 9. Junior Hunting Days provide wonderful opportunities for young hunters and their adult mentors to get outside and enjoy the proud tradition of hunting in Maryland.
Hunting is a part of our history and is woven into the fabric of our State’s culture. We appreciate everything you and all other conservation-minded hunters do for Maryland.
I also want to take this opportunity to address you directly about the proposal we recently introduced to reduce gun violence. Our goal is to enact common sense proposals to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, and to try to reduce the risk of a mass shooting like the one that occurred in Newtown.
Let me be clear: We are committed to protecting hunters and their traditions. That’s why we specifically carved out shotguns and rifles from the licensing requirements of our bill.
This bill will NOT impact your ability to introduce a young hunter to the sport and the conservation stewardship ethic borne of that experience.
Good luck on Saturday and I look forward to hearing your stories from the field.
A careful reader will note that the Governor is promising to protect “hunters and their traditions.” Yet, the letter makes no reference to the true intent of the Second Amendment, which is to safeguard citizens from governmental tyranny.
The real question O’Malley needs to answer is not how the bill affects hunters, but how his proposal mars a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense against (a) tyrants and (b) criminals.
Given that his bill includes a ban on ‘assault’ weapons, many gun owners already know the answer to that question – and that may be the real reason why they showed up en masse on Wednesday.