Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — One of the toughest gun control plans in the country may soon be reality in Maryland. The governor’s reform bill already cleared the Senate. Now it gets a green light in the House.
Meghan McCorkell has the latest developments.
Lawmakers still need to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. But if they do, that bill could soon be on the governor’s desk.
After hours of heated debate on the House floor, the controversial Firearms Safety Act passes.
“You won’t ignore the tens of thousands of people when they’re marching in the streets here and they’re saying that what has happened is wrong,” said Del. Michael Smigiel, Eastern Shore.
“At the end of the day, it’s a simple bill that puts us in the right direction,” said Del. Jon Cardin, Baltimore County.
The bill bans assault weapons and puts a 10-round limit on magazines. It also requires handgun owners to go through fingerprinting, firearms training and licensing and renewal fees.
Advocates say it will make Maryland safer.
“You have to picture Perry Hall where the young man took a shotgun into the cafeteria and he used it. You can imagine what it would have been like if he had a semiautomatic weapon,” said Del. Michael Busch, House Speaker.
Opponents disagree, saying the bill does nothing to stop gun violence.
“The people who are committing gun crimes and murdering people with guns are not getting them under the law anyway,” said Del. Anthony O’Donnell, Minority Leader.
Even with the passage in the House, the bill does have more hurdles to clear before it becomes law.
The bill will now go back to the Senate. If signed, it will likely face legal challenges, something proponents say they’re ready for.
“We’re prepared for that and we’re going to work hard,” said Tony Hauser.
“We do not want another Aurora to take place. We do not want another Sandy Hook to take place,” said Neeta Datt.
Opponents are vowing to take the issue to referendum and let the voters decide.
The governor reacted to the House vote saying the state is so close to enacting common sense reforms.
The House speaker says the bill will go to a conference committee in the next 24-48 hours.