By Jennifer Shutt
Listening to what guns could become illegal within the next year has left many Marylanders angry.
To address those concerns and engage in a bit of politicking, Rep. Andy Harris, R-1st-Md., and Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis joined forces Monday to explain what those bills would do.
"We oppose any legislation that would encroach or infringe on our Second Amendment rights," Lewis said.
The town hall meeting at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center attracted more than 300 people who listened as Lewis and Harris explained why they are opposed to any changes to gun laws.
Harris said he is opposed to any more restrictions on gun ownership because many states do not prosecute people for lying on their paperwork when applying for a firearm.
"The root of the problem is you keep the guns out of the hands of criminals and you prosecute the ones who break the law," Harris said. "This is not that complicated."
Among the bills that have Second Amendment advocates concerned is the Firearms Safety Act of 2013.
In Maryland, that bill has garnered the most attention, attracting hundreds of opponents to the committee hearings and being the focus of several rallies on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis.
Introduced at the request of Gov. Martin O'Malley, it would ban certain assault-style weapons, change who can legally purchase guns in the state, require a certain amount of training to purchase a handgun and change reporting requirements for gun dealers.
The bill has passed in the Senate but has yet to receive a vote in the House of Delegates.
National legislation is still being formed, but a provision banning certain assault-style weapons will not be part of it, according to Senate leaders.
Other parts would stiffen penalties for those who buys a gun for people who cannot do so themselves and enhance school safety. A provision to broaden background checks at the national level also might be included.
Harris and Lewis were joined by Wicomico County State's Attorney Matt Maciarello, several other county sheriffs and Delegate Mike McDermott, R-38B-Worcester, who drew standing applause with his vehement opposition to gun restrictions in Maryland.