And the governor is seeking new measures to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illness who show violent tendencies.
(Read: How the National Rifle Association became one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in America.)
The coming gun-control debate in Annapolis, where Democrats reign, will contrast starkly with the discussion in Washington and the contortions that will be needed to get any gun-control legislation through a divided Congress.
O’Malley’s plan, which administration officials described Sunday, positions him among a cadre of Democratic governors, including New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seeking aggressive gun-control legislation in state capitals. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide the details, which have not been previously disclosed.
Regionally, O’Malley’s efforts are likely to further widen a cultural divide on gun control between Maryland and Virginia, where Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s call for stricter gun control after Newtown.
Responding to O’Malley’s emerging plan Sunday, Maryland Republicans said the gun-control measures appeared ill-suited to prevent another Newtown and seemed more tailored to the governor’s political goals.
“This looks like crass opportunism from politicians who want gun control,” said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert), who would need to peel off support from several Democrats to derail O’Malley’s plans.
“The reality is Martin O’Malley is trying to get to the left of Cuomo in New York because he wants to run for president in 2016,” O’Donnell said.
O’Malley plans to announce the gun package this week, when he formally introduces the rest of his legislative package for the 90-day session, aides said. He will offer a preview of his gun measures, they said, on Monday, when he introduces New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) at a summit in Baltimore on reducing gun violence.
‘Too much killing’
O’Malley, who first made his name in politics as a tough-on-crime Baltimore mayor, signaled his intent to develop a gun-
control package just days after the Newtown shootings, telling reporters, “I think we have too many guns, and I think we have too much killing.”
“You look at some of these guns, and it’s just hard to conclude that these guns should be in the hands of anyone who isn’t a soldier on a battlefield or a law enforcement officer sent into a tactical situation,” O’Malley said at the mid-December news conference, which took place shortly after he pulled several Cabinet officials together to start looking at a response.