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Assault Weapon Ban A Sticking Point In Maryland Gun Control Legislation

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Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown discusses the gun control legislation that has languished in the House of Delegates.
Matt Bush
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown discusses the gun control legislation that has languished in the House of Delegates.

Supporters of Maryland governor Martin O'Malley's expansive gun control bill are pressuring lawmakers in the House of Delegates to act on the measure.

O'Malley's bill has been bogged down in the House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committees for weeks since passing the Senate last month.

The point of contention is the governor's plan to ban military style assault weapons, which could include the AR-15 rifle that was used in the Newtown, Conn., mass elementary school shooting last year. Some weapons like the AR-15 could be removed from the proposed ban.

For Vinnie DeMarco of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, removing the AR-15 and some other guns from the ban would weaken the bill considerably.

"We want this whole bill because it was designed in a way to save lives and prevent tragedies like what happened in Newtown," says DeMarco. "It wouldn't make sense not to ban the gun that killed the kids in Newtown."

Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown doesn't want the House to make any changes either, but does expect some to occur as a compromise. He's happy the new licensing requirements, which would make any prospective handgun buyer submit fingerprints before they could purchase the firearm, are being left alone for now.

"We'll find the consensus around the more thorny issues like magazine capacity and assault weapons," Brown says. "But this is not unusual in Annapolis on these difficult issues for them to be resolved in the last few days and weeks of the General Assembly."

Lawmakers will adjourn for the year April 9.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Circuit Court overturned a lower court ruling yesterday that Maryland's current standards for conceal and carry permits are not unconstitutional. Opponents of the law argue the state should not force residents to show a "good and substantial" reason for the permit — something they view as a constitutional right.

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