ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The names of 49 Maryland residents who died as a result of domestic violence between July 2011 and June 2012 were read during an annual memorial service Monday night hosted by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.

Electric candles were also lit at the 25th annual service to honor the lives of the 28 women, 18 men and three children who were killed.

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“Domestic violence is 100 percent preventable,” said Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence President Tovah Kasdin on Tuesday. “But it takes resources, protective legislation, early intervention efforts and community response to reduce intimate-partner violence each and every day.”

The majority of domestic violence deaths occurred in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The two regions reported 13 and 12 deaths respectively.

The education and advocacy group is urging Maryland lawmakers to pass what they call “strong and effective” gun-control legislation.

While no specific measures were suggested, Kasdin said she supported the legislation backed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

In recent weeks, the Democratic governor has proposed banning assault weapons and creating stricter licensing requirements for handguns.

“Of the 49 people in Maryland who lost their lives to domestic violence, 57 percent of those deceased died due to the use of a firearm. We can do better,” Kasdin added.

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The advocacy organization is also supporting legislation that creates harsher penalties for abusers who commit heinous acts in front of children.

“It is an empirically supported fact that when children grow up in the presence of domestic violence, they are more likely to become abusers or be abused themselves at a far higher rate,” said state Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will consider a bill that provides judges with the power to enhance the penalty of imprisonment for up to five years in addition to any other sentence, when a domestic crime is committed in front of a minor.

Erin Curtis, 37, a domestic abuse survivor and mother of two, is encouraged by the proposed bill.

While her abuser was sentenced to 12 years in prison for second-degree attempted murder, she said, “My children and I were given a life sentence. I will have to live for the rest of my life with my disabilities and my scars. My children will have to live with the memory of their mother being brutally beaten and stabbed in front of them.”

Maryland has seen increases in domestic violence fatalities over the last three years. The organization reported 38 domestic violence deaths between July 2009 and June 2010, and 43 deaths between July 2010 and June 2011.

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