O’Malley stressed that his plans are “very much a work in progress,” but said he senses a strong will among lawmakers to take action in the 90-day session that starts Jan. 9.
“I think there’s been a change of heart and a greater open-mindedness in the wake of the murder of the innocent in Connecticut for people to take a look at especially assault weapons,” O’Malley said. “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.”
Before addressing reporters Tuesday morning, O’Malley pulled together members of his Cabinet to start talking about possible initiatives. He described the meeting as akin to what President Obama did on the federal level on Monday.
O’Malley conceded that a ban on assault rifles like the one used by the Connecticut shooter would be “a lot more effective on the national level.” But he said Maryland lawmakers should consider a similar prohibition and that he would “absolutely” sign a ban if it reached his desk.
O’Malley also said state officials should consider limiting “the huge magazine clips” of the kind used by the shooter in Connecticut.
O’Malley, who rose to political prominence as a tough-on-crime mayor of Baltimore, said he has long favored reinstating the federal assault-rifle ban that lapsed in 2004.
In response to a question, he also took issue with comments Tuesday morning by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who said his state should consider arming teachers, principals and other school staff.
“I know there’s been a knee-jerk reaction against that,” McDonnell said in an interview on WTOP radio. “I think there should at least be a discussion of that.”
O’Malley questioned whether that is “the most prudent course.”
“It’s hard to imagine a level of weaponry that a security guard ... would be carrying on their belt that could have resisted the sort of attack that that individual perpetrated in Newtown,” O’Malley said.
In addition to gun-control measures, O’Malley said his administration is also exploring issues such as the appropriate level of sharing of mental health information and standards for school safety, which he said have been mostly left to local school boards in Maryland.
O’Malley’s comments came amid a “year in review” session with reporters on Tuesday at which questions were dominated by the Connecticut shootings.
Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.