Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law today a gun control bill that bans the sale of assault rifles. Aimed at preventing future Sandy Hook tragedies, the bill also limits gun ownership for people with mental illness, it outlaws the sale of high-capacity magazines, and it establishes a new handgun licensing system.
The bill has made its way through the gauntlet of Maryland legislature, but it’s still got a rocky road ahead. The National Rifle Association has suggested that it might challenge the bill in court and gun rights supporters have started a petition drive to stop the bill from going into law on Oct. 1. If they’re able to gather enough signatures, the bill will automatically be put on hold and will go before voters in 2014.
O’Malley claimed that the bill “will substantially lower gun deaths." He also signed a bill that will extend the state’s DNA database, a database which he claims has led to 545 arrests since 2007. Another signed bill would create stricter penalties for human trafficking crimes.
Not all of these bills directly relate to firearms. O’Malley signed about 250 bills in all. Some of them simply allocated funds to rebuild public schools and another bill raised taxes on gasoline.
O’Malley has the support of many of his colleagues in the Maryland legislature. Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D) backed the set of strict gun control bills, calling them “common sense.” Baltimore City State Attorney Gregg Bernstein similarly supported the bills, but he complained that they didn’t go far enough. "No single piece of legislation is going to be a panacea for gun violence, particularly in Baltimore City," Bernstein said, "there is much more that we can do."
These bills mark some of the strongest gun control laws in the country. State bans on assault-style weapons are fairly rare, especially since assault weapons like AR-15s have become increasingly popular among consumers in recent years. Maryland is also now one of only five states that use a new set of strict handgun licensing laws.
It’s hardly surprising that Beretta was forced to leave Maryland. They sent a strong economic message to Maryland legislators by moving, but O’Malley and other gun control supporters clearly weren’t listening.
Source: Baltimore Sun