Reporting Derek Valcourt
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Governor O’Malley signs new gun control legislation into law this week, but the fight over firearms is far from over. Now, gun control groups are pushing to get the issue before voters.
WJZ has exclusive video of the new ad supporting the governor’s law.
Derek Valcourt has more on the push to change the law, and the governor’s new campaign.
With the referendum effort in full swing, the ads are aimed at boosting support for the new gun law and the politicians who backed it.
Governor O’Malley’s signature on the Firearm Safety Act means it’s scheduled to take effect October 1. But it is signatures on a referendum petition that could stop the law for another 18 months.
That’s when voters would decide whether to shoot down the law, which bans assault weapons purchases, puts a ten round limit on magazines and requires handgun purchasers to go through fingerprinting, firearms training and pay licensing and renewal fees.
Petition supporters say momentum is on their side.
“My guess is we’ll get well over 100,000, at least 100,000. People just can’t wait to sign it,” said Larry Helminiak, petition supporter.
Facing such staunch opposition, supporters of the law are fighting back.
“Something had to be done and here in Maryland we stood up,” the ad said.
WJZ has an exclusive look at a new ad campaign launching this week supporting the law, claiming it reduces gun violence by getting weapons out of the hands of criminals.
“With a fingerprint licensing law, that 68% of gun owners like me support. A requirement that’s reduced gun crimes in the five states where it’s the law,” the ad said. “It will work for Maryland and it could work for the entire country.”
The NRA has decided to support a court challenge to overturn the law, rather than a petition referendum, but the petition organizer said she doesn’t want to leave the fate of the new gun law up to the courts.
“And I thought that the citizens of Maryland deserved a voice on this issue,” said Sue Payne, Freestatepetitions.com.
So for now, the gun battle rages on.
Backers of the referendum have until the end of May to collect about 18,000 signature, and then another 38,000 by the end of June.
If the referendum is approved, it would go before voters in November, 2014.