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O'Malley introduces public safety, gun legislation - The Star Democrat - Easton, Maryland: The 2015 Maryland Legislature

O'Malley introduces public safety, gun legislation

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Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 5:01 pm

ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Martin O'Malley on Friday introduced his public safety priorities that will address gun safety and violence prevention issues in Maryland.

"Progress is a choice. So long as gun violence continues to take the lives of our fellow Marylanders, there are choices we must make together to protect our children, our families and law enforcement personnel who put themselves in harm's way every day," O'Malley said.

O'Malley said his proposal will improve the safety of schools, make mental health reforms and enact common-sense gun safety measures.

The gun safety measures include banning all military-style assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines from 20 rounds to 10.

They also include stronger licensing requirements on handgun purchases and restrictions on possession of guns and ammunition.

O'Malley's fiscal year 2014 budget sets aside $25 million of the proposed school construction funds to strengthen school security with cameras at entrances, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass, buzzer entrance systems and other enhancements.

Along with enhanced security measures, it also established a Maryland Center for School Safety, which would be a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement for a comprehensive approach to school safety.

Sen. Richard Colburn, R-37-Mid-Shore, is skeptical of the proposal, and said he doubts these measures would prevent another tragedy like the shooting in Connecticut.

"I haven't seen a piece of legislation that will guarantee us that piece of mind," Colburn said.

Colburn said since O'Malley probably is going to run for president in 2016, the governor is in an ongoing battle to see who can appeal more toward the liberal democratic base.

"Unfortunately, that puts Maryland as the pawn of the game," Colburn said.

He said the bill O'Malley introduced could be considerably different from the final bill that could be passed as amendments are introduced throughout the rest of the Maryland General Assembly.

But Colburn said it really is the fact that conservatives, especially on the Eastern Shore, see any gun control legislation as an attack on the Second Amendment.

As for the school security, Colburn said, since children are our future and they must be protected, it certainly would be nice to have the peace of mind that they are safe.

"What the final General Assembly action on that will be, it's too early to tell right now," Colburn said.

All that's left now is to wait and see what lawmakers' next moves are, and see what amendments are made to the bill throughout the rest of the 2013 session.

The irony for Colburn in all this is O'Malley is introducing his public safety agenda while at the same time trying to secure legislation to repeal the death penalty.

Colburn said if a person commits a heinous crime like the Connecticut shooting and is convicted using DNA evidence, they should face the death penalty for their actions.

"How can you have it both ways ... banning guns one day and abolishing the death penalty another day," Colburn said.

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