This week, two Maryland House committees will review Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013, a bill that would ban ‘assault’ weapons and ‘high’ capacity magazines as well as require licensing and fingerprinting for all gun buyers.
Versions of the bill have already passed the full state House and state Senate, but the latest draft of the bill is now sitting before the House Judiciary committee and House Government Operations committee, both will give it a final vote before potentially sending it to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Rep. Jill P. Carter, one of the lawmakers who will decide the fate of O’Malley’s Firearms Safety Act, has said that while she supports the bill, she is also open to amending it.
“My constituents have overwhelmingly requested support for the Governor’s bill,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “If it’s something they overwhelmingly want, it’s my obligation to do so.” Adding, however, “If there are other reasonable changes suggested from our work group, I’m amenable to them.”
Official synopsis of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013:
Altering the authorization for a person to wear, carry, or transport a handgun to be within specified limitations; designating specified firearms as assault weapons; prohibiting, with specified exceptions, a person from transporting an assault weapon into the State or possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, or receiving an assault weapon; providing that specified prohibitions relating to assault weapons and detachable magazines do not apply to specified persons under specified circumstances; etc.
Advocates on both sides of the issue have held rallies in recent weeks at the Capitol and elsewhere around the state voicing their support/opposition to the law.
At a pro-gun control rally on Saturday, Bonny Eisenbise said she worried that the bill may not pass given the vehement opposition from gun rights advocates.
“The opponents of the bill are so loud,” she told the Sun. “They’re way outnumbered but are so loud and so angry that I’m afraid their voices are going to be heard over the voices of the majority.”
However, gun rights advocates expressed their own doubt about an immediate victory.
Gary T. Raynor, a gun owner and Second Amendment supporter, said that he expects the bill to pass, but predicts that the courts will eventually declare the new measures unconstitutional.
“The gun control people may end up being sorry they ever started this fight,” Raynor told the Washington Times.
Ray Givens, another gun owner and Second Amendment advocate, echoed Raynor’s thoughts, adding that if it passes it could be a blessing in disguise as it will “wake up the Second Amendment Democrats to what is going on in the state” and it will also end O’Malley’s bid for president in 2016 and cripple Attorney General Doug Gansler chances of becoming the next Maryland governor.
Putting those silver linings aside, one direct negative consequence of the law’s passage will be the very real possibility that Maryland-based gun manufacturer Beretta USA will move its operation to another state.
“We are pushing a legitimate manufacturer and good neighbor out of Maryland,” Republican state Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell told Fox News last Wednesday.
“Losing them would be a big disappointment. Maryland has a reputation for having a horrible business climate, and this would be one more nail in the coffin,” continued O’Donnell, the state House minority leader.
If Berretta leaves, they’ll be taking with them about 400 jobs. A hard pill to swallow given these tough economic times.