In the aftermath of the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut last week, leaders from Baltimore City and Montgomery County are calling for stricter gun laws in the state of Maryland.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Sen. Brian Frosh and Sen. Jamie Raskin were among those who attended a press conference at the Episcopal Ecumenical Council Center in Baltimore on Wednesday to announce support for legislation aimed at curbing access to firearms.
"[This] legislation is intended to address the epidemic of gun violence that has swept the country. The mass killings that we’ve experienced in theaters, in places of worship and most recently and most horribly in an elementary school," Frosh said. "We have a public health crisis that stems from the use of these guns—illegal guns, guns that are acquired legally—the failure to address these issues would be a failure of leadership."
The legislators are seeking support for a series of bills, most of which have been submitted before, that would do everything from increasing scrutiny of residents seeking a permit allowing them to carry a concealed weapon, to legally limiting the number of rounds that could be held in a clip and allowing the Maryland State Police the same powers as the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to inspect and regulate gun stores.
"Our first priority in Baltimore is to build support for laws that address access to illegal guns and assault weapons," Rawlings-Blake said. "In the past year good legislation has been stopped in Maryland’s General Assembly by special interests."
Political leaders were also joined by leaders of faith institutions that called for limiting access to firearms in the state.
"This violence that permeates our culture, that leads us to recognize that every innocent life lost is one too many. In considering the losses that we’re responding to in Newtown, CT, and everywhere else, considering how we ache and what we feel, it is for this reason that our community supports gun control," said Rabbi Ron Shulman, president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.
Although most of the legislation being proposed has failed to gain traction in previous years, Frosh and Raskin said recent events make this a year that gun control will gain more traction in Annapolis.
"The political calculus has changed dramatically. Before the question was that a lot of legislators were afraid if what may happen to them politically if they acted. Now politicians are afraid of what’s going to happen if they don’t act," Raskin said.