Republican state lawmakers offer gun-safety alternatives -- Gazette.Net


Republican lawmakers are pushing their own bills aimed at preventing gun violence as an alternative to the sweeping proposals introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) last month.

One bill, backed by Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton and Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Dist. 7) of Middle River, would prevent offenders convicted of gun crimes from earning diminution credits or being eligible for parole.

“We're dealing with violent, repeat offenders who use firearms in the commitment of crimes,” Pipkin said. “It sends a signal.”

Del. Michael Smigiel (R-Dist. 36) of Chesapeake City objects to O’Malley’s proposal that safety training be a mandatory requirement for acquiring a handgun license, and is reintroducing a proposal of his own. Current and former police and military personnel and those who already have taken approved safety courses, for example, shouldn’t have to undertake additional training, he said.

“If you’ve done any of those, and have experience with the use of firearms, then you should automatically be qualified,” he said.

In addition to a ban on military-style assault weapons and stricter licensing requirements — such as the required training course — O'Malley has proposed strengthening the state’s mental-health services through increased data sharing and expanded crisis resources, such as hotlines and response teams that include both police and mental health experts.

Del. Michael Hough (R-Dist. 3B) of Brunswick said he is sponsoring a bill to broaden the standards for having someone committed to a mental-health treatment facility, a measure he said would help make sure the mentally ill can get the treatment they need.

Del. Cathleen M. Vitale (R-Dist. 33A) of Severna Park has submitted a bill that would prevent people from being eligible for a handgun permit if they suffer from certain mental disorders, regardless of whether or not they have a history of violent behavior.

Current law requires a history of violence before a permit can be denied due to mental illness, which Vitale said might not prevent a mass shooting.

Republicans are expected to announce additional legislation addressing issues related to gun permits and licenses on Monday.