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Gun Rights Advocates Speak Out At Maryland Town Hall Meeting

Gov. O'Malley to testify on gun control today in Annapolis

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Maryland residents turned out to a town hall meeting on gun control Feb. 5.
Matt Bush
Maryland residents turned out to a town hall meeting on gun control Feb. 5.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley goes before a State Senate committee this afternoon to urge passage of his sweeping gun control legislation.

While today will be the first time others will be able to question the governor directly on his plan, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown — the man O'Malley designated as his point person in getting the legislation passed in Annapolis — has been getting an earful at a short series of town hall meetings around the state.

One of those with a lot to say on gun control was Jeff Underwood, who owns a gun shop in Columbia, Md. He came to the town hall meeting at Prince George's Community College last night in Largo to decry the strict licensing requirements in the bill.

"The bill immediately treats every law abiding citizen as if they're a criminal. Because they want to fingerprint everybody, register everybody," Underwood says. "The criminals aren't going to be doing this. So all the law abiding citizens like myself are going to have to go through this entire process."

Bob Beaman of Mitchellville, Md. doesn't like the licensing either, but took more of an issue with the members of the panel explaining the bill interchangeably using the terms "firearm" and "weapon."

"Anything can be a weapon. A golf club can be a weapon, a pen can be a weapon, a screwdriver can be a weapon, a soda bottle can be a weapon," he said. "But a firearm is a firearm."

Brown likened the licensing requirements to those needed to obtain a driver's license. Should the regulations pass, they would pertain only to guns purchased after Oct. 1 of this year.

"We've exempted shotguns and hunting rifles. It's prospective and not retroactive," he said. "It doesn't prevent, it just does a more thorough screening to make sure that people who buy a firearm do so with lawful intentions and not criminal intentions."

Brown admitted  the current bill is far from final. But he was confident it will pass.

"It's very likely the bill will be amended between now and the time it's enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor," he said.

Brown will holds one final town hall Wednesday in Rockville with Montgomery County leaders, just hours after the Senate committee meets.

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