Ten weeks after that attack, Marylanders are more supportive of stricter gun-control measures than Americans overall. They also tilt in favor of measures beyond what O’Malley and the legislature have seemed willing to do, such as putting an armed guard in every school in the state, a proposal backed nationally by the National Rifle Association.
Concerns about gun violence and crime dwarf economic concerns in Prince George’s County, where six teenage students and a college senior have died already this year in shootings, as well as in Baltimore, which has recorded 23 shooting homicides. Residents in both districts overwhelmingly back stricter gun laws, as do those in Montgomery County, even as gun violence is less widely perceived to be a problem there.
Overall, more than six in 10 favor stricter gun control laws in Maryland and on the national level, outpacing the 54 percent of all Americans who support stricter laws in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
O’Malley’s (D) strict new gun licensing plan, which the Senate started debating on Tuesday, draws wide support from across the state’s political spectrum, with backing from more than nine in 10 Democrats and more than seven in 10 Republicans and independents. Most of those in gun-owning households also approve of the plan, with 59 percent saying they do so “strongly.”
Proponents of the licensing provision say requiring purchasers to submit fingerprints to police would reduce so-called “straw” purchases, when a family member, friend or acquaintance buys a gun on behalf of another person who might not qualify.
“I support it, absolutely,” said John Pendelton, 58, of Temple Hills. “Those second-hand gun buys, they’re a problem and if someone gets caught, they should be punished just as equally as someone who uses the gun.”
Pendelton said he once owned guns in his youth, but no longer does and has seen too much gun violence to put Second Amendment rights above gun control.
“First of all, people do have the right,” Pendelton said. “The thing of it is, you have so many people with weapons in their homes that violence happens, in the heat of the moment, something crazy ... but if the gun is not there, people have to find a better way to handle the situation.”
The vast majority in the state’s gun-owning households support background checks at gun shows, something that is already required in Maryland, but not across the Potomac in Virginia. A clear majority also supports O’Malley’s licensing requirement and placing armed guards in schools.