Senate concurs with House version of gun bill

PAC plans to oust bill's supporters

The Maryland Senate concurs with the House version of the  Firearms Safety Act.

The vote on the final approval of the bill Thursday was 27-20.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Martin O'Malley.

Maryland's House of Delegates passed the bill Wednesday on a 78 to 61.  Supporters say it could make it more difficult for criminals to obtain handguns.

The House did make some changes to the bill; but its major proposals – the fingerprinting requirement for handgun purchases and the 10-round limit on magazine sizes – remain in effect.

If signed, the Firearm Safety Act will put Maryland in the same class of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

"I think it can become a national model for other states, and it's hugely important that it does become a national model," says Johns Hopkins professor, Jon Vernick.

Vernick should know, he co-edited the book Reducing Gun Violence in America.

The co-director for the Center of Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says the gun bill is solid legislation. Specifically, the licensing provision and the banning of large ammunition clips.

He believes those measures alone can have a huge impact on public health in Maryland.

"Our research has shown that laws like this, particularly fingerprint licensing requirements, make it harder for high-risk people to get guns, reduce gun trafficking and as a result, are very likely to reduce the rate of firearm injury deaths and crime in the state."

Vernick says it could be a few years before the state sees benefit from the legislation.

His expert opinion isn't without criticism.

Patrick McGrady is the chairman of the Maryland Liberty PAC. McGrady spent the last few days trying to organize enough votes for a Senate filibuster to defeat the bill.

"What this law does is it criminalizes the ownership of a gun, a bunch of different kinds of guns that lawful people already own and have in their homes," McGrady says. "It will criminalize the possession of the ones they already have if they don't take them to the government and explain they own them."

McGrady said the Maryland Liberty Pac plans to oust lawmakers that helped make the bill law.



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