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Maryland: Contact Your State Legislators Immediately! Legislation Introduced to Ban Commonly Owned Firearms and Restrict Magazine Capacity, Severely Tighten Registration Requirements

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Governor Martin O’Malley has made targeting the rights of law-abiding gun owners a legislative priority this session, and his proposals could soon be considered, pass and become law.  His anti-gun legislation has been introduced as Senate Bill 281, an attack on our Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage in Maryland. This bill has been referred to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, but at this time has not been scheduled for a hearing.  Senate Bill 281 is expected to move very quickly through the legislative process, so it is imperative that you contact committee members and your own state Senator IMMEDIATELY and urge them to oppose this legislation!

Senate Bill 281 represents simple politics and presents 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 following misguided policies can be found in Senate Bill 281:

  • A ban on the transport, sale, purchase, transfer or possession of commonly owned semi-automatic centerfire rifles that have a detachable magazine and one additional characteristic – such as a pistol grip, telescoping stock, flash suppressor, threaded barrel etc.  under the political misnomer “assault weapons.”  Currently owned firearms must be registered with the Maryland State Police before November 1, 2013, and persons moving into Maryland must register all regulated firearms within thirty days of residency. Contrary to claims by the media and the Governor himself, 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 “machineguns” under federal law, and are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and long-standing state laws.  They are not readily available to the public, are registered federally and have been banned in many states for years.  Other than for gun control supporters’ misleading propaganda purposes, fully-automatic firearms have nothing substantial to do with semi-automatic “assault weapon” legislation or 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.


  • Restrict magazine capacity to no more than ten rounds.  While O’Malley incessantly repeats that his proposals do not infringe on Second Amendment rights and that he is not going after handguns, his claims become impossible to believe with the inclusion of this limit on self-defense.  In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court 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.  Further, as history bears testament, the federally-imposed magazine limit in effect between 1994 and 2004 had no effect on crime.


  • 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 their 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.


Senate Bill 281 clearly overreaches and misses the mark.  It will do nothing to stop crime and will only penalize the law-abiding. One thing is for certain:  Anti-gun politicians are attacking your rights as an easy target because they will not focus on real solutions for the criminal acts of violence.  The NRA-ILA will continue to send updates on this matter as details become available to us.  It is of the utmost importance that you act NOW to stop all attempts to ban firearms and enact more ineffective and onerous gun control laws.  This bill is expected to move very quickly through the legislative process, so it is imperative that you contact members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and your own state senator IMMEDIATELY and urge them to oppose this legislation!

Contact information for your state senator can be found by clicking here.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Members:

Senator Brian E. Frosh, Chairman (D-16)



Senator Lisa A. Gladden, Vice Chairman (D-41)



Senator James Brochin (D-42)



Senator Joseph M. Getty (R-5)



Senator Jennie M. Forehand (D-17)



Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-34)



Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-26)



Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20)



Senator Christopher B. Shank (R-2)



Senator Norman R. Stone Jr. (D-6)



Senator Bobby A. Zirkin (D-11)




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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.