The firefight over firearms

Gun avocates say there must be middle ground

Just 11 days before Christmas, we wept for Sandy Hook.

From Newtown Connecticut to Baltimore, we watched as 26 people, 20 of them young children had their lives cut short.

"I was appalled.  I sat here and watched all of it," says D'Wayne Strawbridge, a registered gun owner and advocate. "I was thinking about those families the pain and suffering that they're going to go through for years."

Strawbridge is an avid gun collector with about 50 weapons safely stored in his home.

Strawbridge says he didn't even think about his guns the day of the Newtown shooting.   But in the days that followed, the focus shifted to gun control and bans on weapons he owns. He began to worry.

"I didn't do anything wrong, all my weapons were locked up safe. I'm pro-gun and I'm for common sense legislation but absolutely removing my right to purchase any of these firearms should i pass the requirements to own one makes no sense at all," says Strawbridge.

Strawbridge has been a marksman since high school and says responsible gun owners shouldn't pay the price for actions of the mentally ill.  He believes keeping guns out of their hands is where the focus should be.

"People should not have the ability to buy guns that are made for mass murder and war," said  Vincent DeMarco

Vincent DeMarco of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence says the governors proposed legislation would save lives.

DeMarco says a license to purchase provision could block criminals by requiring finger printing from State Police and make it more difficult for those with a history of mental illness to get a gun.

The bill would also ban assault weapons and decrease the amount of ammunition allowed in a magazine.

"We should not live in a society where somebody can shoot 30 rounds from a gun without having to reload," says DeMarco. 

DeMarco says Baltimore could have had its own Newtown tragedy on the first day of school.

"When somebody went into that Perry Hall School and started shooting.  But luckily, he had a gun that could only shoot a couple of bullets at a time, so when he tried to reload somebody was able to stop him," said DeMarco.

15-year-old Robert Gladden Jr. pleaded guilty last week in the shooting of Daniel Borowy at Perry Hall High School. Borowy was seriously injured, but survived.

DeMarco says that "You can pass the legislation and it is still going to happen.  There are millions of these assault type weapons available in the U.S."

Strawbridge is aiming for a target somewhere in between. He just hopes lawmakers will try to protect everyone's rights.

"This is a hobby for me that I covet.  I would hope that they would look at somebody like me who owns firearms and say he's not such a bad guy, maybe we'll let him keep them," he says. 

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