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I am writing to express my deepest opposition to all new gun-related legislation brought forth by Gov. O’Malley. It is an infringement on my Second Amendment rights as a law-abiding citizen. It is also a form of discrimination. Lastly, it would put my personal safety, my life and the lives of my family at risk.

The discrimination aspect is with regard to those of us who are living paycheck to paycheck. By that, I mean specifically the parts of the legislation that will require law-abiding citizens to register firearms, obtain a license, get a background check with each purchase of a firearm, get fingerprinted and take a 16-hour training course. This could easily cost each of us more than $500 in fees up front, and more with any purchase of a new firearm. This simply is not something I can afford. I have been training with firearms for many years now. I know how to safely carry, store and shoot all the firearms I own. I do not need a class; in fact, I could teach a class. I do not need to be fingerprinted as I am not a criminal. I do not need a further in-depth background check, as I have already passed the one in place for registered firearms as is law now. I do not need to register my firearms, as those serial numbers for regulated firearms were already submitted with my initial purchase to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

These laws will do nothing to prevent those who wish us harm from obtaining firearms and using them against those who would become defenseless due to financial constraints of new requirements. Criminals will always find a way to obtain firearms, and they do not care if it or the capacity of a magazine is banned. They look for the easy targets, i.e. “gun-free zones.” And as such, with this proposed legislation, you are making Maryland a gun-free zone by disarming your citizens.

Police are not the first responders in a home invasion, mugging, rape attempt, etc. They arrive minutes later when seconds count. Please do not take away my right to the firearm of my choosing to defend myself. By imposing bans and multiple fees and time-consuming training, you will be doing just that.

I have lived in Maryland for all of my 40 years. And have contributed to this state with my taxes as part of the workforce for more than 25 years. I am a nurse and work long, rotating shifts and call hours. Going to and from work as a female in the dead of night is always a risk. I would hope that with opposing this legislation, you would also look at becoming a “right to carry” state as well. Armed law-abiding citizens are not the problem; criminals are. Please look at increasing conviction rates, imposing stiffer penalties and grave consequences for criminal action. Please do not turn law-abiding citizens into criminals by supporting O’Malley.

Tara Estep, Olney