Caption: "Cindy VanDyne scanning records from a gun retailer in 2010 at the A.T.F.’s National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va"
Gun rights advocates marshaled one of the biggest crowds to descend on Annapolis for a bill hearing in years Wednesday, packing the halls of the Maryland State House complex to oppose Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to institute some of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws.
Outside the State House, opponents of O’Malley’s plan made it clear that he would be in for a battle. Many adorned their clothing with “Guns Save Lives” stickers and lined up to sign petitions against the bill. Placards bounced to the rhythm of speeches. One woman held up a cardboard sign that said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.”Kelly Cook, 23, a college student from Arnold, held up a sign that said: “Why do you want to fingerprint me? I am not a criminal.”“That’s what I want to ask Governor O’Malley,” she said.
More than four hours into the hearing, a Connecticut-based lobbyist for the gun industry drew the most heated reaction from the Democratic-controlled panel.“The restrictions in this bill are arbitrary. Nothing in it will prevent another Newtown or Columbine,” said Jake McGuigan of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown.“You’re coming from Newtown, Connecticut, to tell us an assault-weapons ban would not save lives?” asked Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery).Like others from the gun industry, McGuigan did not back down. He stressed that Connecticut has an assault-weapons ban and that the guns used in the shooting that killed 20 students there were legally owned by the killer’s mother.With regard to Maryland, McGuigan cited homicide statistics from 2011 that showed just two of nearly 400 killings statewide were committed with rifles that could be banned under O’Malley’s legislation. Outside the hearing, the crowd in an overflow room applauded at the response.Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for firearm manufacturer Beretta, which has a plant in Accokeek, warned lawmakers that O’Malley’s bill, which outlaws 45 types of weapons and their knockoffs, could have a severe impact on the company’s business. He also said that because gun manufacturers in Maryland are required to register as firearm dealers, it’s unclear whether the company would still be allowed to export guns for sale in other states.“We’re confronted with a state government that wants to ban the products we make,” Reh said. “Not surprisingly, we are concerned.”
Hope Ingraham of Gaithersburg said she doesn’t own a gun but brought her 9-year-old daughter, Zahira, to the spectacle because she thinks that constitutional rights should not be infringed upon.“I used to be really anti-gun until [Hurricane] Katrina and I watched all of that Superdome stuff,” she said, “and that’s when I realized — the government lacks the ability to protect us when we need it most.”After six hours waiting to testify, Athena Andrzejewski of Ellicott City was told that she would not be called before the hearing would be adjourned at 9 p.m.“I expected a big crowd but not this big,” Andrzejewski said. “I’m glad it’s this big. It means we’re not just going to take whatever comes. It means we are going to fight.”
I don’t particularly like the AR-15, although it is one of the most popular rifles in the country. Three million have been sold, according to an NRA researcher. But to define it as an assault rifle because of how it looks — with a pistol grip, adjustable stock, flash suppressor and “high capacity” magazine — is silly.
You want to see a dangerous-looking gun, look at the one President Obama was photographed skeet shooting with at Camp David last summer. That shotgun of his was big enough to take down a woolly mammoth. When I pulled the trigger on the AR-15, one high-powered round came out. Maybe I hit something; maybe I didn’t. Obama can’t miss. He could clear a room with one double-barreled blast.
Why ban one and not the other? And once you start banning semiautomatics, where do you stop?
If gun control advocates were truly serious and not just well meaning, they’d be focusing a lot more on education and mental health. For instance, everybody knows that our children are being adversely affected by violent video games. So why aren’t schools deconstructing video games as part of the curriculum, explaining to students how the military uses these same war games to condition troops to kill without remorse?