Maryland needs to continue the fight to find viable approach to gun control

By Kennedy Thomason

Elm Staff Writer

This year, around 796 people will die as a result of gun misuse in the state of Maryland. 

This number is, of course, an average, which was curated by Everytown Research based on data from previous years. However, the fear of becoming one more statistic in the grand scheme of gun violence is very tangible.

According to Everytown, Maryland “ranks eighth in the country for gun law and strength” since Governor Wes Moore assumed office. Within the past year, Gov. Moore and his administration have produced gun control policies with the intention of lowering gun-related deaths in the state. Some lawmakers on the other side of the political aisle see these laws as going too far. Unfortunately for Moore, some judges agree. 

Bills which recently hit the books in Maryland include efforts such as creating a Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Intervention and creating avenues for victims or their loved ones to take legal action against firearm manufacturers or gun owners who do not keep their firearms properly secured.

These regulations also necessitate prior licensing in addition to the already required fingerprinting and 30-day wait before citizens are allowed to purchase a firearm. Lastly, in an effort to deter mass shooting incidents, these laws restrict where firearms can be carried regardless of concealed carry permits. These measures passed in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate and were quickly signed by Gov. Moore. Before the ink could dry, though, Republican efforts to strike down these laws were already underway. 

According to CBS, “in November, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Maryland cannot enforce a law requiring people to obtain a license before they can buy a handgun.” 

Also in November, a federal judge overturned the original provision requiring fingerprinting and the 30-day waiting period, which had already been in effect for 10 years. 

As far as the restrictions placed on concealed carry permit-holders, the swath of new legislation created “broadly defined types of locations where people would be prohibited from carrying guns: areas for “children and vulnerable individuals,” “government or public infrastructure” areas, and a “special purpose area,” or places where the public gathers for entertainment, education or other social events,” according to Maryland Matters. A judge took issue with these limitations and reversed the effect of the law in certain areas which the legislature agreed fell into the three categories, ultimately ruling that concealed carry is permitted in private buildings, some businesses that sell alcohol, and around public events. 

Two of the largest advocates for these laws were Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, organizations dedicated to advocating for strict gun control laws in the name of protecting young lives from the horrors of gun violence. The family of 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey was also highly influential in the passage of Jaelynn’s Law. Willey was shot and killed by a peer at her school who used his father’s gun in the attack. Jaelynn’s Law demands that owners of firearms ensure their guns are securely locked away and stipulates that if their firearm is used in a crime and it is found that the owner “knew or should have known” the gun was accessible, they can be legally prosecuted. 

Gun safety and control demands the attention of everyone, regardless of state lines, party affiliation, or any other demographic. The ever-present threat of school shootings is just one reason why Washington College students especially should remain informed about the laws in place to protect the campus and the individuals within it. These judicial rollbacks demonstrate how important it is that we take this a step further; do not just be informed, be an active participant in the pursuit of change. 

Dealings with the second amendment will remain controversial until lawmakers and the public alike accept that gun control is a necessity and that the safety of students is worth compromising for. Common sense gun laws, such as the legislation laid out by Maryland’s elected officials, can exist in tandem with the right to bear arms for law abiding citizens. 

I am all for constitutionality, but I will value the lives of Maryland youth over the convenience of gun ownership any day. 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo Caption: Common sense gun reform has been a frequent subject for protest and debate in contemporary American dialogues.

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