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Maryland Lawmakers Unveil Proposed Gun Control Measures

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Maryland lawmakers say they are going to pursue an assault weapons ban in the state.
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Maryland lawmakers say they are going to pursue an assault weapons ban in the state.

In the wake of last week's mass shooting in Connecticut, a group of state senators in Maryland is unveiling a series of gun control bills they will push during the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

The bills are wide-ranging, including an assault weapon ban, mandatory reduction of ammunition clip size and banning concealed gun permits for people who've been committed involuntarily to a mental institution in the past five years. 

Sen. Bill Ferguson from Baltimore says their message is clear.

"This madness must stop," Ferguson says. "We can not continue to have a community in which gun violence is accepted."

Montgomery County Sen. Jamie Raskin is sponsoring the assault weapon ban, which would cover 45 guns and any "copycat" weapons made to skirt the law.

"There is simply no reason for any civilian in the United States of America to be carrying around a military style assault weapon like an uzi," Raskin says.

Although many of these measures, such as the assault weapons ban, have been introrduced in the legislature before, none have passed. Raskin thinks the upcoming session which starts next month is going to be different.

"Unlike the other massacres and disasters we've seen, like the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords or Columbine, public emotion is not subsiding every day," Raskin says. "It is growing every day."

Montgomery County state's attorney John McCarthy says current requirements for such permits are much too lax.

"In Maryland right now, if you apply for a license, you're asked on your own honor to answer a couple questions," he says. "'Do you suffer from a mental disorder or have a history of violent behavior against someone?' We basically rely on what the person tells us. And we ask them if they've been confined for more than 30 consecutive days at an institution. We rely on what they tell us."

Ferguson's bill would also prohibit anyone from having a gun at a school, university, theater, church, bar, library, youth center, and government building. Earlier this week, governor Martin O'Malley also said he will be introducing some measures designed to stop mass shootings as well.

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