The General Assembly is set to begin hearings this week on the most controversial gun legislation it has seen in more than a decade. Since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary the national gun debate has changed night and day and Maryland is pushing for lights out on guns. Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposal would require a license for handgun purchases, expand background checks, ban the sale of assault weapons and limit magazines to 10 bullets.
The problem is Maryland already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, particularly in Baltimore. However, it also has one of the highest rates of gun crime. The Sun's Justin George reported this weekend, only about 1 percent of the weapons Baltimore police seized last year would qualify as assault weapons, and the overwhelming majority of weapons used in Baltimore crimes are handguns. The requirement to purchase a license for all handguns would mean Marylanders would have to pay a $100 licensing fee, in addition to other costs and training. This is severely limiting the scope of those who are able to purchase a gun, putting law abiding citizens in harm’s way because they are not able to defend themselves. Guns are going to become a luxury that only the rich can afford, while criminals will still be able to find ways to purchase guns on the black market.
So instead of throwing our citizens into harm’s way, we should be focusing on the basic problems plaguing our nation. Concerns need to be refocused to mental health issues and better ways to address the needs of those citizens who need help but are not able to obtain help on their own. Our job as Legislators should be dedicated to funding mental health facilities in Maryland. The horrible massacres that have occurred are a result of unstable individuals not getting the help they need, not guns. The issue of mental health is only addressed after something has gone wrong, not as a preventative measure and this is our nation’s biggest mistake. We should not punish law abiding citizens and take away their ability to defend themselves just because we have failed to take the proper steps in preventing massacres that are only committed by mentally unwell individuals.
We also need to work towards accountability for our children. Parents need to be aware of the type of violence that their children observe in the video games and movies that are deemed acceptable today. Advocating violence by glamorizing it is only adding to the problem of altering the scope of how our children view the world in which they live.
Delegate Joe Boteler III
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-Richard Henry Lee