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Even if you don’t really care about people’s rights to keep and bear arms as set forth by our Founding Fathers, you should encourage your state representatives to vote down Maryland Senate bill 281. This bill is just a waste of paper. If this bill passes, exactly zero criminals will obey it. This bill will actually make many honest, hard working and law abiding Marylanders criminals if they don’t turn in and/or register weapons and accessories they currently legally and safely own and use. The bill as written is just a “gun grab” by anti-gun legislators and will do little if anything to reduce crime committed with firearms. There are thousands of laws already on the books that would prevent crime if enforced. The real way to stop gun crime is to prosecute and punish the criminals. Last year, in Baltimore, 45 percent of suspects arrested for murder had already been arrested for prior gun crimes, according to Maryland Shall Issue, a gun owners’ rights organization.

This law mandates a five-year sentence without possibility of parole for possession of now-legal arms and accessories that thousands of citizens of this state own and safely use for hunting, sport, competition and self-defense. If our courts would impose punishments this harsh on real criminals breaking current gun laws, many crimes would be prevented.

If your desire is for a complete gun ban, then this is a step in that direction. If you really want to stop crime, ask your representatives in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., to stop wasting time and resources writing legislation that will do nothing to prevent crime. Demand that they pass legislation that requires long-term imprisonment for criminals using firearms. Demand that our judicial systems prosecute and punish real criminals with the many laws we already have.

SB 281 is just bad legislation. Don’t allow it to become law.

Chris Speaker, Owings