Governor Martin O'Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, joined by Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, today signed into law a comprehensive approach to addressing gun safety and violence prevention in Maryland. The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 includes common sense reforms to save lives and make Maryland's communities safer by addressing gun safety, mental health, and school safety while safeguarding Marylanders' Second Amendment rights.
"Together with the men and women of the General Assembly, a strong coalition of advocates, and the people of Maryland who overwhelmingly support policies to reduce gun violence, we've chosen to take action by advancing the strategies that work to save lives," said Governor O'Malley. "Together with the brave men and women in law enforcement, we've driven down violent crime in our State to historic lows, but just one life lost to senseless violence is one too many. The legislation signed today takes a comprehensive, common sense approach to help keep our communities safe while striking a balance between protecting the safety of law enforcement and our children, and respecting the traditions of hunters and law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns for self-protection."
"The Firearms Safety Act is the culmination of months of study and deliberation by lawmakers involving many hours of stakeholder testimony and input," said Speaker Michael E. Busch. "These reforms will reduce gun violence in our State and enhance public safety for our citizens."
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown led the Administration's community outreach efforts on the Firearm Safety Act this past session, traveling the state and holding a number of town halls to engage with Marylanders on the Administration's public safety agenda.
"By passing the strongest gun safety laws in the nation we will reduce gun violence and make our streets, communities and schools safer," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Many questioned if we could succeed in taking on the special interests, but this legislation proves Marylanders want sensible gun safety laws."
Together with local, state and federal law enforcement partners, Marylanders have driven violent crime, homicides and property crime down to 30-year lows. The comprehensive legislation signed today is summarized below:
On gun safety, the O'Malley-Brown Administration's plan:
-requires licensing, fingerprinting, and safety training to purchase a handgun- important steps that experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research say are effective in preventing gun violence;
-bans the sale of 45 types of assault weapons (including the AR-15) and certain copycats, weapons that have been used to gun down at least 461 Americans since the federal ban sunset in 2004 including at least 35 police officers;
-limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds (previously 20 rounds) aligning Maryland's magazine capacity limit with that of states' with the lowest firearm death rates nationwide;
-makes the use of "cop-killer" bullets in any violent crime a separate offense;
-requires mandatory reporting to law enforcement of lost or stolen firearms making failure to do so punishable by a civil fine (or a 90 day misdemeanor for a subsequent offense);
-bars persons who receive probation before judgment for violent crimes from possessing firearms;
-establishes a single automated gun application process between gun dealers and the Maryland State Police;
-strengthens the Maryland State Police's ability to regulate gun dealers allowing them to shut down rogue dealers whose guns result in a disproportionate number of crimes; and
-prohibits persons who cannot lawfully possess firearms, such as those prohibited based on a prior conviction or a mental health disqualifier, from possessing ammunition.
On mental health, the O'Malley-Brown Administration's plan:
-creates safeguards to keep guns away from people who may be dangerous to themselves or others due to mental illness including expanding the category of persons prohibited from possessing guns to include anyone involuntarily committed for any length of time;
-facilitates unprecedented levels of information sharing among federal and state partners for background checks;
-improves mental health services in Maryland;
-establishes a Center for Excellence on Early Intervention to advance understanding and public awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems;
-expands Maryland's Crisis Intervention Teams and Crisis Response Services; and
-establishes a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-led Task Force to improve continuity of care for individuals in Maryland's mental health system; discontinuity of care in mental health treatment is a risk factor for poor outcomes and violence.
On school safety, the O'Malley-Brown Administration's plan:
-dedicates $25 million of school construction dollars for school security enhancements; establishes a Maryland Center for School Safety; and
-ensures that the Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland's higher education institutions will work with the State Police to review all school emergency plans to identify and address any gaps.
The right balance between protecting families and safeguarding our Second Amendment rights, the law:
-does not prohibit lawful citizens from obtaining or owning a handgun;
-does not require additional licensing procedures for hunting rifles and shotguns;
-does not force citizens who lawfully possessed an assault weapon prior to the bill's passage to surrender their weapon or to register it;
-does not require companies who manufacture assault weapons in Maryland to stop production; and
-does not require current lawful gun owners to retroactively obtain a license.