ANNAPOLIS, MD - Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley testified in committee Wednesday afternoon for his gun control package.
Assault weapons could wind up banned in Maryland if O'Malley's bill passes in the Maryland General Assembly. Senator Ron Young is the only Western Maryland lawmaker to co-sponsor the bill.
"I'm voting for parents who can drop their kids off at school or take them to the movies and feel like they're safe," says Young, (D) - Frederick & Washington Counties.
The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 would also lower the limit on magazine capacity from 20 to 10 rounds and require residents to get a license before buying a handgun. Residents would have to pay $100 for that license.
"We don't need bullets that pierce police vests, weapons with big magazines and a lack of background checks," Young says.
Hundreds of people turned out for a pro-gun rally in Lawyer's Mall in Annapolis before the hearing. The protesters aren't alone because the majority of Western Maryland lawmakers are opposed to the governor's bill.
"It's a gun-first approach. It seems that some people never let a tragedy go unwanting for an opportunity to try and push legislation or promote their agenda," says Del. Wendell Beitzel, (R) - Garrett & Allegany Counties.
"The governor's coming in and trying to use Maryland as basically a political pawn to enact this liberal social agenda to outdo Andrew Cuomo and look good for a presidential primary in 2016 because that's really what this is all about," says Sen. Chris Shank, (R) - Washington County.
Shank serves on the Judicial Proceedings Committee where O'Malley testified. Shank says he's very much opposed to the bill.
"The governor's bill bridges our constitutional rights by making it so onerous to own a handgun and by outright banning a certain class of weapons simply because they look scary to some people," Shank says.
Young believes at least part of the governor's bill will get a green light from the Maryland General Assembly and become law.
"Unfortunately, I think we're becoming a violent country," Young says. "I think a lot of the negative politics are politics of fear, and people feel like they've got to run around with military-type weapons to protect themselves, and I don't think that's necessary.
The bill also includes funding for additional school safety and early mental health intervention. You can read it by clicking here.