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Right now major gun control legislation is being considered by the Maryland legislature.  A bill proposed by Governor O'Malley which would among other things  ban assault weapons and limit magazines to 10 rounds, previously passed the Maryland Senate.  

Gun control advocates had hoped the Maryland House of Delegates would pass the Senate Bill, which would then be signed into law by Governor O'Malley.  However, two committees in the Maryland House of Delegates last week made changes to the bill  which weakened the bill.  Among the changes were allowing sales of assault weapons begun prior to the October 1, 2013 effective date of the bill, exempting from the registration requirement current owners of assault weapons, and removing from the bill certain physical traits that would define assault weapons.

 This last change:

creates a loophole, critics contend, that could allow future generations of weapons to be legal that otherwise would be banned.

For example, under the current version of O’Malley’s bill, it is likely that a semiautomatic rifle under development by Beretta would be legal in Maryland. The rifle, which is expected to be called the ARX-100, is modeled after a military rifle used by Special Forces units.

A vote on the House bill is expected tomorrow, and unless the bill is amended back to the Senate's version on the floor of the House, gun control advocates will face a tough choice--do they push for the Senate to pass the House bill, which would then by signed by Governor O'Malley, or do they push for both versions of the bill to go to a conference committee, and hope that an agreement can be reached and that this legislation would then be passed by both houses by the end of the legislation session.  

Taking the matter to conference would be risky since there is the danger that the clock will literally run out without gun control legislation being passed this session.  For those of you unfamiliar with Maryland, Maryland has a 90 day legislation session, which can only be extended by a 3/5 majority of both houses or by the Governor calling a special session.  The 2013 legislation session is expected to end this Monday.

It is for this reason that

Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said his group was urging the Senate to accept the House version despite the amendments.

I agree with Mr. DeMarco that it is better to accept a weakened House bill then to run the risk that the session will end with no gun control legislation at all.   According to the Washington Post, it has been 17 years since Maryland last passed gun control legislation.  Given the success of the NRA at the federal level, and the recent trends in the national polls on the issue of gun control, I don't think that we will get a better chance to do something on the issue of guns next year.  

Despite the flaws in the House bill, The Washington Post is reporting:

all of the major provisions remain intact: His bill would ban scores of assault weapons, limit magazine capacity to 10 bullets, require fingerprinting and licensing of gun buyers, and expand the list of mental-health patients precluded from purchasing firearms.

Originally posted to night cat on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos, Shut Down the NRA, and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).


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Comment Preferences

  •  Marylander here... (5+ / 0-)

    been watching this with great interest.

    In the end I would have preferred the senate version. But, pragmatically, the house version continues the momentum from the states while still raising the bar on Congress.

    Having the Maryland legislation fall apart between the chambers at the last minute is not good for the larger cause.

    One of the things that does give me heartburn is this:

    One of the chief concerns is a provision that would let any state resident who volunteers to be a member of the Maryland Defense Force elude many restrictions on gun purchases. The Maryland Defense Force, which dates to 1917, is a little-known part of the state’s military department that, like the National Guard, is under the governor’s control.

    Maj. Gen. James Adkins, head of the Maryland National Guard, wrote to legislative leaders Tuesday saying he opposed the exclusion. He called the force an “outstanding organization” but said many of its 450 volunteers have no military training and no need for weapons to carry out their duties. “This group of fine men and women are not a group in need of an exemption” from the gun bill, Adkins wrote.

    I've lived here over 25 years and never heard of this thing. I don't think enabling some loosely-aligned citizen militia to evade gun laws makes any sense. Particularly in today's political climate.

    I'd much prefer that this provision be stricken by amendment. But, of course, that could open Pandora's Box.

    •  The Maryland Defense Force (3+ / 0-)

      Looks to be innocuous, at least from a quick googling of it, but, one never knows. It's been established and disestablished two or three times now, and exists to "provide competent supplemental professional and technical support to the Maryland Military Department as required".  Their web-page is all about Toys for Tots and Hurricane Sandy aid. If necessary, the Governor could either disband it again, or place additional training requirements on it (there appears to be only one day of training per year involved right now). Maryland's a funny little state, and I don't see this as anything more than yet another quirk.

      However, if this does turn into some kind of gun-nut loophole, I'll be worried.

      Radarlady, 13 year Maryland resident

      •  Thanks for the research. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radarlady, night cat

        LOL, when I first heard about this a thought popped into my head about arming the Civil Air Patrol with sidewinder missiles. I can be hyperbolic.

        But when I gave it more serious thought, I thought of NRA minions going state-to-state in places they were going to lose on legislation, finding obscure quasi-governmental organizations and getting them exemptions. Then, of course, these organizations would be flooded with new members.

        Where I live in Maryland we're so blue you still see Clinton/Gore bumper stickers. But you head a bit north and you're into some serious RWNJ territory (hence Rosco Bartlett's thankfully-ended reign of terror).

        There are a lot of people that way, north, east and west, that I don't want getting any ideas about starting their own army.

  •  So, despite the flowery words, the Major General (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is saying his is the only "well regulated" militia in Maryland? That must have gone over well.

    It's not as if the MDF is some rag-tag outfit someone just dreamed up.

  •  A lot of states have (or have had) their own (0+ / 0-)

    defense forces/state guards/militias in the past. They are making a bit of a comeback lately because governors are finding out that the National Guard can be scooped up and hauled off to foreign lands at the whim of the federal Army. That leaves no one behind for state emergencies-- forest fires, crowd control, fugitive hunts, disaster response, etc.

    Levels of training and accountability vary, but these actually are "well regulated militias" in the proper sense, and would be a good place for people to gather if they want to qualify with civilian "assault rifles".

    The internet is ruled by cat people. Dog people are busy playing outside.

    by Canis Aureus on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 05:07:07 AM PDT

  •  While I understand the concern about the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md

    Maryland Defense Force exception, I think that the bigger concern is the removal of the physical traits that define assault weapons from the bill.  This will allow the NRA and the gun manufactures to create new types of weapons that will not be exempt, which will mean that we will need to yet again push for legislation to ban these types of weapons.  

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