Dear Editorial Team at the Baltimore Post-Examiner:
I am a concerned resident of Calvert County regarding two bills that have been introduced to the Maryland Legislature. These include the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 and the Maryland Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.
The Maryland Senate and House have introduced these as companion bills. The Senate Bills are 281 and 623 respectively, and the House Bills are 294 and 1191 respectively. I am equally concerned and committed to addressing head-on the issue of gun violence, including the illegal use of firearms and gun violence committed by mentally deficient individuals.
The nation has experienced a decade long trend of ever increasing violence being perpetrated by individuals illegally using firearms, the most recent of which has resulted in great losses of life. These bills have been introduced to the Maryland Legislature and the people of Maryland to mitigate this gun violence.
After having studied these bills, I have serious concerns regarding specific sections of the bill as to whether the proposed measures will effectively reduce gun violence. I am concerned that the crafting of these sections of the bill may be more the result of an emotional response to the recent tragedies involving gun violence, as opposed to a thoroughly thought-out approach based on non-partisan fact based findings.
Guns, a specific gun model or gun characteristic is not the cause of gun violence. Somebody must pull a trigger. The relevant questions are: who, what, when, where, how, and why. Until we aggressively and faithfully work in a non-partisan fashion to discover the answers to these questions, we the people in the state of Maryland will not understand the causes of gun violence in our state, and therefore will not be able to begin crafting effective measures to mitigate these causes.
I have not been able to find from either the Federal Government or Maryland any empirical evidence or empirical data based on non-partisan efforts that tell us that the banning of what is being defined as an assault weapon will effectively reduce gun violence.
With respect to Maryland Firearm Safety Act of 2013, I further have not seen presented to the people of Maryland any empirical evidence or empirical data that precisely conveys how each measure being proposed will work to effectively reduce gun violence in our state.
What I instead see is an unsubstantiated negative impact to law abiding Maryland residents as well as an unconstitutional infringement against the Second Amendment. I agree that firearm training/education are effective measures to achieving responsible firearm ownership/use and that background vetting can be effective measures to prevent the illegal use of firearms by both criminals and those who are mentally deficient.
Variations of these measures are included in the Maryland Senate and House bills, however, I object to them being combined with measures that are clearly an unconstitutional infringement against the Second Amendment and in my opinion will not effectively reduce gun violence or the irresponsible use of firearms. The difficult questions must be answered first, so that we allocate limited resources and prioritize accordingly to implement any new measures that will effectively reduce gun violence as well as promote responsible firearm ownership/use. As part of this process/deliberation, it is essential to include in these discussions the need to aggressively enforce what I believe are already an existing array of comprehensive gun laws in Maryland (including straw purchases) and sentencing those found guilty of violating these laws to the full extent permitted,
I believe the question that Maryland residents should be asking is, “How do we effectively reduce gun violence without infringing on the people’s right to keep and bear Arms, thereby affirming and preserving the purpose of the Bill of Rights.” The answers to this question will require hard work in a non-partisan way.
We owe it to those who have already lost their lives to gun violence and to those lives that we will save in the future to commit our full attention to complete this hard work. The idea that we need to do something now, anything, without first doing the hard work to answer the above questions will only delay any meaningful reduction in gun violence.
We need to develop effective measures, in a non-partisan way that includes a process that solicits input from all Maryland residents. I believe proposed Maryland Firearm Safety Act of 2013 and the Maryland Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 represents a short sighted approach driven by emotion and perhaps political ideology that will do nothing to effectively reduce gun violence, as well as have the unintended reckless consequence of weakening the Second Amendment.
I urge all Maryland residents to educate themselves regarding the merits of these bills, and convey to their elected representatives that they reject these bills in their entirety. Instead, request that they advocate a comprehensive, non-partisan, and inclusive, fact based approach resulting in the empirical evidence and data that will answer the questions of what is causing gun violence in Maryland, and then afterwards this be the basis for crafting and implementing effective measures to reduce gun violence. We as a state must then continuously and vigilantly assess the effectiveness of these measures, and refine/reform as needed to achieve effective measures to reduce gun violence for the long term. And I strongly believe this can all be achieved without infringing in any way the people’s right to keep and bear Arms.
I also urge Maryland residents to participate in upcoming Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committee hearings open to the public regarding the merits of these bills. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hold a hearing open on March 5, 2013 starting at 1pm, to discuss the merits of the Maryland Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (1194) as well as number of other proposed firearm regulations. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing open on March 1, 2013 starting at 1pm, to discuss the merits of both the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (HB 294)and the Maryland Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (1194) as well as number of other proposed firearm regulations.
Here’s a data point for perspective: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 32,885 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2010. Total number of gun fatalities reported by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for the same time period: 31,076. Using the same logic as proposed in these bills, we should indiscriminately ban the sale of certain makes and models of automobiles to reduce traffic fatalities as opposed to first answering the who, what, when, where, how, and why questions regarding circumstances and the drivers involved in these fatalities.
Calvert County, Maryland