“Where’s the correlation between assault weapons and saving lives?” Cluster asked O’Malley.
Del. A. Wade Kach (D-Baltimore County) piled on, questioning O’Malley about the math.
O’Malley said more than 400 people and 35 police officers have died nationwide since the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004.
“Our state really is too violent,” O’Malley said, citing years of soaring but finally falling homicide rates in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. “We have the highest number of PhDs in this state . . . and the greatest number in body bags from gun violence.”
The hearing also began to reveal the potential impact of scores of amendments the Senate made to O’Malley’s bill.
Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for the gunmaker Beretta, said he was flying to Europe next week to meet with members of the Beretta family about the company’s future in the state. The gunmaker’s U.S. operations are based in Prince George’s County, where it employs 300.
Reh said one change the Senate made could expose company executives to jail time for clerical errors. He was referring to an amendment aimed at holding gun dealers accountable for records of gun purchases, with two or more records errors in three years potentially leading to jail time. In Maryland, gun manufacturers are also required to register as dealers.
“We literally have millions of pages of documents of firearms transactions,” Reh said.
O’Malley’s office was officially mum Friday on the status of his forthcoming transportation plan. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) broke the news to the press corps that it is coming soon.
Miller has put forward his own legislation, which includes a new 3 percent sales tax on gasoline at the wholesale level. O’Malley aides said the governor’s plan is likely to include a version of that tax but did not indicate how large the new levy would be.
O’Malley and several lawmakers have said that Virginia’s passage of a transportation plan last weekend provides additional impetus from them to act.
Kate Havard contributed to this story.