ANNAPOLIS, Md.—A Senate committee hearing on Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill that seeks to ban assault rifles attracted hundreds of gun-rights supporters to the state capital on Feb. 6, with some of the supporters testifying against the bill.
A House Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for March 1.
In the meantime, advocates on both sides are seeking to amplify their arguments.
O’Malley’s office said in a recent blog post that responsible gun owners support common-sense legislation. Detractors of the bill said that it punishes law-abiding gun owners.
Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O’Malley, said there is a constant flow of misinformation about the bill.
The common misperceptions were that the bill would limit Second Amendment rights, hunters would be prevented from enjoying their sport and handguns would be banned, Guillory said.
“We have put the facts out there. The bill is on the Web. If someone wants to actually know what the bill does, there are numerous ways to do that,” Guillory said.
Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who is against the bill, doesn’t see it that way.
“I think if the governor’s bill is passed, the first thing that would happen is that that a federal appellate court would knock it down as being unconstitutional. I think it, as currently drafted, is unconstitutional on its face ...” Shank said.
Shank is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where O’Malley testified in support of the bill. During that hearing, Shank questioned O’Malley about the constitutionality of the bill.
Stacy Mayer, O’Malley’s chief legislative officer, said at the hearing that Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has been very clear about the constitutionality of the bill.
Shank said Thursday that Gansler has been markedly wrong about some of his opinions in the past.
O’Malley’s bill, also known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, would ban “military-style assault weapons.”
According to a document from O’Malley’s office the bill also would:
- Reduce the maximum magazine capacity from 20 rounds to 10.
- Put in effect licensing requirements for handguns with age restrictions.
- Require digital fingerprinting for handgun ownership.
- Expand the definition of who is prohibited from owning a gun due to mental illness.
- Require improved data sharing between state and federal law-enforcement agencies.
Shank said Thursday that the handgun licensing requirement was a “de-facto” handgun ban.