As Maryland lawmakers grapple with gun-control legislation, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Monday said his office will employ the “time-tested” tool of allowing residents to turn in illegal or unwanted firearms, no questions asked.
Gansler (D) dubbed May 11 the “The Attorney General’s 1st Annual Statewide Gun Turn-in Day.” He said his office was working with local prosecutors and police to set up drop-off points statewide. No ID will be required to surrender a weapon, he said in a statement.
“This gives family members the opportunity to remove illegal and unwanted guns from the home that they fear would be used to harm themselves or others,” Gansler said.
Several Maryland counties and Baltimore conducted gun buy-backs that took in hundreds of weapons in December after the mass shooting that killed 20 students at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Gansler, a former Montgomery County state’s attorney, is eyeing a 2014 run for governor. In addition to the gun roundup, he said he would also soon add his own gun-control proposal to the blizzard of proposed bills circulating in Annapolis.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) introduced a 39-page bill last month that would ban assault weapons and add a requirement for prospective gun buyers to submit to digital fingerprinting and complete a firearm safety and shooting class before obtaining a license to purchase a gun. O’Malley’s bill would also seek to tighten school security and expand the number of people who could be banned from owning a gun in the state because of a history of mental health problems
Maryland state lawmakers have also introduced more than four dozen bills. Several would tighten gun laws even further than O’Malley has proposed.
Gansler announced his support for a handful of those Monday, saying that among others, he would back measures requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms; gun shops and firing ranges to keep ammunition logs and allow the Maryland State Police to inspect them; and new rules to require more secure storage of guns in homes to keep them out of the hands of children, the mentally ill and criminals.
Gansler’s statement also said he would seek a new law that would change the experience of buying a gun by forcing dealers to ask purchasers questions they now answer on an application:
“A soon-to-be introduced bill will require a gun dealer to recite and initial, at the time of sale, critical firearm purchase application questions such as, ‘Have you ever been convicted in Maryland or elsewhere of a felony?’ ” Gansler said. “The measure would ensure purchasers have actual knowledge of who is a prohibited purchaser … will further deter criminals from purchasing guns, and make it easier for prosecutors to hold accountable those who lie on their firearm purchase application.”
Gansler’s moves on gun control came as Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), another expected 2014 gubernatorial hopeful, wrapped up a series of community events touting O’Malley’s gun-control bill.
Brown has presided over sometimes boisterous community meetings attended by gun-rights advocates in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and in Baltimore. On Monday, he held a public video conference on Google+ in which fellow members of O’Malley’s administration answered questions they said came from the public.
Brown invoked the homicide of his cousin two years ago in calling for stricter gun laws. He also repeatedly urged that O’Malley’s package be passed in its totality, saying even a ban on assault weapons would by itself not be the solution to curbing gun violence.
He also pushed back against critics of O’Malley’s plan by cautioning against looking at the licensing and other requirements through the lens of whether it would have prevented the school shooting in Connecticut.
“Whether it would have stopped [Newtown] is not a reason for us to look at ways to make Maryland a safer place.”