JESSUP, Md. (AP) — Opponents of Maryland’s recently passed gun control bill say they will challenge the measure in court, not on the ballot.
Delegate Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican who has led previous petition drives as chair of MDPetitions.com, said the National Rifle Association will lead the overall legal effort against the measure that was proposed in January by Gov. Martin O’Malley. The governor has not yet formally signed the bill.
“Certainly after discussions with the gun groups, it’s clear this is a constitutional right that should not go to the citizens to vote on,” Parrott said at a gathering at Blobs Park in Jessup.
Parrott was flanked by members of gun-rights groups, who supported the decision to take the matter to court instead of the voters.
Parrott and other opponents of recent legislation succeeded last year for the first time in two decades in petitioning three bills to the ballot to let voters decide. They included measures allowing same-sex marriage, enabling some students who are not in the country legally to pay in-state tuition and a bill redrawing the state’s congressional redistricting map. Voters upheld all of the measures.
Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said he is confident the gun control measure is constitutional.
If the bill were petitioned to the ballot, that would delay its Oct. 1 effective date until at least after voters approved it in November 2014.
“Governor O’Malley’s lifesaving law can now start saving lives on Oct. 1,” DeMarco said.
John Josselyn, who represents the Gun Clubs of Annapolis, said the group will help form a political action committee called Take Back Maryland to advocate for gun rights. He said he expects it to be formed in two weeks.
The gun measure, proposed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, makes the state’s already-strong gun laws among the toughest in the nation.
Under the bill, Maryland would become the first state in nearly 20 years to require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police. The measure also bans 45 types of assault weapons, although people who own them now will be able to keep them. The legislation also limits gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also addresses firearms access for people who are mentally ill. Those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility won’t be allowed to have a gun.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)