Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has no plans to accept donations from the gun lobby and no intention of filling out a questionnaire from the National Rifle Association, his deputy campaign manager said Monday.
Doug Mayer said the governor told a group of students last week that he has “no interest” in accepting contributions from the gun rights group or answering the survey, which the organization generally uses to decide whether to endorse candidates.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous on Monday challenged his Republican rival to give back any money the NRA has donated to his campaign and to respond to the 2018 NRA questionnaire.
Mayer did not say whether Hogan would return $4,000 he received from the NRA Political Victory Fund in January 2015, shortly before he took office. But he noted that several Democrats in Annapolis also have received NRA donations, and he asked whether Jealous was pushing for them to be returned, as well.
“The governor’s record speaks for itself,” Mayer said in an email. “Four years ago, he made a promise not to roll back Maryland’s gun laws, and he has not only kept the promise but supported and implemented common sense proposals to curb gun crime and violence across our state. He will keep his promise and continue pursuing these kinds of actions throughout his second term.”
Hogan was endorsed by the NRA in 2014 and received an A-minus rating, with the group citing his “support and commitment to the Second Amendment.”
This year, he supported state legislation that bans bump stocks, keeps guns away from domestic abusers, and allows a court to remove firearms from those who pose an immediate and present danger to themselves or others.
Democrats have long called for the governor to release his 2014 NRA questionnaire, but he has not done so.
On Monday, Jealous made his questionnaire public and signed a pledge not to accept NRA money.
“We all deserve to know where our elected officials stand in public and in private,” he said in a statement.
The survey includes 28 questions, including several about repealing portions of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act. Other questions are about proposed legislation, including a bill that would require ammunition to be registered and another that would require “microstamping” of cartridge cases.
Gun violence is an especially potent issue in Maryland following last month’s deadly rampage at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis; a March school shooting in St. Mary’s County that killed a 16-year-old student; and a homicide epidemic in Baltimore that included more than 340 killings last year. Students from Great Mills High School organized a gun-violence awareness rally in Annapolis this weekend and met with Jealous and Hogan before the event.
Last week, the governor wrote an op-ed in the Capital highlighting his support of universal background checks and the recent state legislation, including a measure that allows a judge to take a gun from someone thought to be dangerous.
“Will this red-flag law stop all future shooters? Of course not — the hard truth is that no one law can. But we cannot stop there,” Hogan wrote. “Maryland already has the toughest gun laws in the country, but it is clear to me that an effective, nationwide, universal background check system to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill is a tool police need to stop more shooters. That’s just common sense and it is something I will continue to support.”
Hogan told the Great Mills students that he also would support changing a Maryland law to make it illegal to store a loaded firearm where someone younger than 18 could access it. Current law covers only those younger than 16.
Austin Rollins, the student who fatally shot Jaelynn Rose Willey and injured another student at Great Mills before killing himself, was 17. The gun he used was owned by his father.
Mileah Kromer, a political-science professor at Goucher College in Baltimore, said there is no indication that Hogan’s stance has affected his strong approval rating among GOP voters.
“He needs strong turnout from his base,” she said. “And there has been nothing thus far . . . that has brought down those numbers.”