To the Editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner:
As a husband, a father of a 19 month old daughter, I strongly oppose Senate Bill 281.
Senate Bill 281 represents NO viable solutions to prevent violent crime. These anti‑gun proposals have been tried in the past as an easy “solution” – and have been proven resounding failures across the country. Criminals simply do not obey gun bans, register their firearms or comply with any gun control schemes. As a result, only law‑abiding citizens will obey the law and be left defenseless.
The “assault weapon” is a politically‑created misnomer. These are not “military weapons designed for human carnage.” In fact, there are vast, legal and mechanical differences between a semi‑automatic firearm and a fully automatic “military” firearm. Fully‑automatic firearms are defined as “machine guns” and are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and long‑standing state laws.
Semi‑automatics and all other firearms, such as bolt‑actions, pump‑actions, lever‑actions, revolvers, double‑barreled shotguns, and single‑shot firearms, fire only once when the trigger is pulled. They’re not “unpredictable weapons designed for mass carnage,” as many in the news media would have you believe, but are tools commonly used by the law‑abiding for self‑defense, hunting and target shooting.
Regarding the restriction of magazine capacity, the Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008) observed that “the inherent right of self‑defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,” and it declared that the amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”
Millions of rifles and tens of millions of handguns designed for self‑defense are designed to use magazines that hold more than ten rounds. Because the Second Amendment protects the right to self‑defense, a magazine limit is a direct attack on this right, as a defensive use of a firearm could be unsuccessful if the defender were arbitrarily limited in the number of rounds of ammunition available.
SB 281 would also require a state permit to purchase, rent, or otherwise be in possession of a handgun. This permit would be obtained from the Maryland State Police after prospective gun purchasers complete a mandatory 8‑hour gun safety class, submit their fingerprints to a state‑run database, and undergo an extensive state‑funded background check – in addition to the federal background check. Additionally, every new Maryland gun owner would have to reapply for a license to keep his or her legally possessed firearm every five years. All of these new requirements have fees that only penalize law‑abiding gun owners.
These laws serve no crime‑fighting purpose, because criminals don’t register themselves or their guns, and most get guns from theft or the black market. Registration has led to gun confiscation in some foreign countries and some U.S. states. Further, Maryland already has a de‑facto registration scheme in places as the Maryland State Police keep records of legally purchased firearms.
Scott C. Athen, Esquire
Owings Mills, MD