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Maryland Residents Call For End To Gun Violence

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gun violence continues to be a hot topic across the country and right here in Baltimore City. Now students, parents and teachers are raising their voices in hopes of curbing the crime.

Rochelle Ritchie reports high school students are trying to break the cycle.

At the Carmelo Anthony Youth Center, parents, teachers and students have one goal in mind: stopping gun violence.

“We’ve come to break silence on gun violence,” said Zeke Cohen.

Cohen is founder of Intersection, the organization behind Wednesday’s discussion. He says he hopes legislators move forward with Governor Martin O’Malley’s firearms safety act.

“Almost every day, there’s a shooting in low-income neighborhoods throughout Baltimore,” said Cohen.

The proposed legislation would ban all assault weapons, limit magazines to 10 rounds and licensing restrictions on the possession of guns and ammunition.

“This is not gun control. This is firearm safety. This is firearm regulation and it’s designed to protect our citizens,” said Senate President Mike Miller.

Protection is crucial for people like Eric Senior, who has had the unfortunate experience of staring down the barrel of a gun.

“I’ve been shot before,” Senior said. “Stuck up multiple times.”

And now he fears for his sons.

“Couple of weeks ago, someone told my son they’d shoot him in the head,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, Baltimore City has had 29 homicides–23 of those were gun-related.

The issue of gun violence is a hot topic following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn.–and, even closer to home–the Perry Hall High School shooting in Baltimore County.

“Figured if I’m going to do it, I might as well kill a lot,” Robert Gladden said in a taped confession.

Cohen, a former educator, says gun violence not only threatens lives but also the education system.

“A lot of kids come into school having seen violence,” he said. “It has an incredible impact on learning and mental health.”

While some are skeptical of new laws bringing about change, others say you have to start somewhere.

“That’s the stuff that will start to make our communities safe again,” said Dawnya Johnson.

Maryland legislators are also reviewing a bill that would prohibit licenses for gun dealers who have committed illegal activity.

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